Donald Trump removed himself from the board of his Sarasota-based social media company, records show, just weeks before the company was issued federal subpoenas by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and a grand jury in Manhattan.
Trump, the chairman of Trump Media and Technology Group, was one of six board members removed on June 8, state business records show.
Among the board members removed were Kashyap Patel, Trump’s former point man in the White House; Scott Glabe, a former assistant to Trump who was counsel for the media company; and Donald Trump, Jr.
The SEC served Trump Media and Technology Group with a subpoena on June 27, according to a regulatory filing. Trump’s media company owns Truth Social, an app similar to Twitter. Trump was banned by Twitter for inflammatory remarks concerning the insurrection.
Four days later, on July 1, a grand jury in the Southern District of New York handed the company another federal subpoena, an action that typically means a potential criminal investigation is in progress.
The investigations appear to be related to a proposed merger between Trump’s media company and a blank-check company called Digital World Acquisitions Corp., according to a recent regulatory filing.
Digital World is a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Companies such as these raise money to go public with the intent of finding a company to merge with. SPACs are prohibited from finding a partner before going public, but the SEC is investigating potential talks between the two companies that were possibly premature, according to a filing.
The merger between the two companies could reportedly mean $1.3 billion in capital and a listing on the stock exchange for the new company, according to the New York Times.
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Digital World revealed in a recent filing that its board of directors had previously received similar subpoenas.
According to Digital World’s filing, the grand jury subpoenas served on Trump’s company were seeking a “subset of the same or similar documents demanded in subpoenas to Digital World and its directors.”
The SEC’s subpoena, according to a filing, seeks “documents relating to, among other things, Digital World and other potential counterparties for a business transaction involving TMTG.”
In addition to Trump’s company being served by a grand jury, “certain current and former TMTG personnel” were also subpoenaed. Those “personnel” were not identified.
In a statement, Trump Media said it “will continue cooperating fully with inquiries into our planned merger and will comply with subpoenas we’ve recently received, none of which were directed at the company’s chairman or CEO.”
What the statement did not mention was that Trump is no longer chairman, at least according to the state business filing.
Former California Congressman Devin Nunes is listed as the media company’s CEO. A businessman named Phillip Juhan is the company’s CFO. They are now the only two board members listed, both using the same Sarasota office address.
The removal of Trump and the other board members not only preceded two federal subpoenas but also occurred shortly after Trump registered his company in Sarasota, which happened on April 18.
Trump Media’s office is on the second floor of an office building on Cattlemen Road.
A visit to the office by the Herald-Tribune on June 27 revealed Trump’s company name was not on the registry in the main lobby, nor was there any reference to the name at the office suite itself. There was no receptionist either, just a note to ring the doorbell for assistance.
The visit to the office by the Herald-Tribune took place on the same day the SEC served Trump’s company with the subpoena.
The lack of Trump’s name – among the most recognizable in the world – in the office building was notable as the former president has a licensing agreement with Trump Media for use of his name.
A social media platform is vital to Trump, most recently evidenced by his harsh criticism on Truth Social of Cassidy Hutchinson, the former White House aide who told the House select committee of Trump’s insistence that he go to the Capitol during the riots.
It is still not known why Trump selected Sarasota as home to his company, though it is close proximately to Rumble, the video media platform company used by Truth Social.
Rumble is located on Longboat Key, 11 miles from Trump Media’s headquarters.
Truth Social was formed roughly a year after the Jan. 6 attacks, but the app struggled with technical issues, and its ability to attract followers lagged.
On April 22, the technical issues appeared to be solved as Rumble announced the successful migration of Truth Social’s website and mobile apps to its Cloud infrastructure.
On April 18, four days prior to that announcement, Trump Media registered as a business with the state of Florida, listing Sarasota as its address and the former president of the United States as a board member.
Contact Chris Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please support local journalism by purchasing a digital subscription.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Trump leaves social media company during a federal investigation