Trump: Follow the Walnut Shells, er, Truth

Rep. Devin Nunes announced last night that he is leaving Congress by the end of this month/year to take a job as CEO of Trump’s new media empire. Note that Nunes, who once sued the Twitter account of Devin Nunes’ cow, is the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee and would have become Chair if the Trump Party takes over the House next year. This is considered one of the most powerful positions in Washington. But Nunes, if not the cow, is moooving on to greener pastures.

Okay, maybe not. The media empire appears to be just another Trump scam. Judd Legum writes that Trump’s new media company is a $1.6 billion mirage that appears to be designed to let Trump get his hands on investors’ money without ever delivering a product.

One, at the moment Trump’s signature “social media” site exists as a static page that collects email addresses. A Beta version had been promised in November, but this is all there is so far:

What is known: The Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) had promised the social media site would be built on “proprietary” technology but later admitted a test site used open source technology already employed by other right-wing sites. Further, Legum writes, the only people known to be involved in building this technology are Trump and Scott St. John, a game show producer who “will supposedly be involved in TMTG’s streaming service, TMTG+, which is supposed to launch sometime in 2023.” Scott St. John is the mastermind behind “Deal or No Deal” and a bunch of other short-lived games shows I managed not to have heard of.

The investor report eventually posted a “technology team” that consisted only of first names and initials — Josh A., Billy B., Vlad N., and so on. I thought I found a woman’s name — Mortada A., a designer — but it turns out this is a man’s first name in Egypt. Anyway, there is no way to check if these guys are real people or not.

Devin Nunes is real enough, but his only known technology/media management experience is suing the fake Twitter cow.

Even better — Matt Levine writes at Bloomberg that The Trump SPAC Did a PIPE. Yeah, I didn’t know what any of that meant, either. Investopedia says that a SPAC — Special Purpose Acquisition Company — “is a company that has no commercial operations and is formed strictly to raise capital through an initial public offering (IPO) for the purpose of acquiring or merging with an existing company.” And “Private investment in public equity (PIPE) is the buying of shares of publicly traded stock at a price below the current market value (CMV) per share,” Investopedia says. This is done to raise capital for the public company, although it dilutes the value of shares. Further, PIPEs aren’t subject to as many regulations as other investment transactions. Keep that in mind.

In this case, the SPAC is Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC), which first came into existence this September. DWAC “raised $287.5 million by selling stock to investors at $10 per share,” Levine says, even though DWAC didn’t have anything to sell yet. Then in October, DWAC announced it had merged with TMTG. So DWAC is Trump’s SPAC. Levine continues,

“Trump Media & Technology Group (‘TMTG’) will soon be launching a social network, named ‘TRUTH Social,’” said the merger announcement, promising a beta launch in November. It missed that deadline. A test version of the site seemed to be just a clone of open-source social network Mastodon. TMTG’s website has a “company overview” slide deck that contains no business information and does not mention anyone involved in building its supposed technology. “This appears to be a shell company buying a shell company,” wrote Dan Primack.

Ooo, are we watching a shell game? Hey, grifters gonna grift.

Levine explains that as of yesterday, TMTG was valued $44.97 per share. And TMTG is selling stock — to DWAC — at $10 per share. In so many words, Levine says this is weird. Levine also suggests this investment — apparatus? structure? — is being set up so that Trump can keep investors’ money even if the social media empire never launches.

The grifters in The Producers had to put a real musical on the stage in hopes it would fail. This is even better; Trump doesn’t have to bother to put a real social media site on the web.

A couple of days ago, Trump announced that TMTG and DWAC the SPAC have $1 billion in capital pledged by institutional investors through subscription agreements. I don’t know if there’s any proof of that, other than Trump’s say-so. These investors have not been identified, which Forbes says is unusual. (One investor who has been named publicly is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is reported to have given DWAC as much as $50,000.)

Elizabeth Warren, bless her, asked the SEC to look into the relationship between TMTG and DWAC over potential violations of securities laws. And the SEC is doing so, although it’s hard to see if anything will come of it.

Even so, somehow I don’t think Twitter is too worried about the potential competition.

8 thoughts on “Trump: Follow the Walnut Shells, er, Truth

  1. "Mastadon" isn't just a network.

    The word also describes what tRUMP looks like – if mastadon's were orange.

    And I'm sure tRUMP likes the term, mastadon, because if he were a slave-owner, the slaves would call him, "Masta Don."

    It's a grift, like you said, maha.

    Everything tRUMP does is to fatten his wallet.

    In other words, everything tRUMP does, is a massive grift.

  2. What happens when/if investors demand evidence that there was an effort and expenditures that prove a good-faith effort?

    My guess is that US systems programmers will avoid this like a plague. It’s the professional kiss of death on your resume.

    They might pull a Boeing and farm design and manufacturing (programming) out to foreign companies but that’s a fiasco in the making especially with the projected timetable. I was once a programmer and replicating Facebook or Twitter is not trivial.

    And investors expect a profit. Where will the revenue come from? Selling pillows and Bitcoin? If investors expect a five percent return and if we’re talking a billion dollars to launch that’s fifty million in excess of expenses. Per year.

    Nunes has only one qualification. He’s loyal to Trump. If he’s personally named in a fraud suit, he’ll protect Trump until he realizes Trump will make Nunes the fall guy. If it fails, it can’t be Trump’s fault.

    pass the popcorn.

    • "Investors" in these farcical financial instruments probably fall into two classes:

      1. MAGAts who are actually buying the warm glow they get from Trump.  They are probably bragging to their friends that they are gonna make a bunch of dough on this, but when that evaporates, they will forget all about it (or worse, blame it on Commie Democrats Who Hate Capitalism) and then get sucked into Trump's Next Big Thing.

      2. Shady Money, other Grifters, Foreign Oligarchs, etc, who know it's just a way to launder money to/through Trump, and don't expect any direct profit from the SPAC itself.  They expect returns in the form of influence via Trump.  (hat tip to Moonbat, below, and the link to Josh Marshall).

  3. I still don't get Nunes leaving Congress for this. Even he is not that dumb.

    I think Josh Marshall is onto something (in Trump's New Bribe Mill) when he says, it's a way for people to get favors, deposit cash here…

    This is probably obvious to many of you. But Donald Trump’s new ‘Truth Social’ media company, formed with a blank check SPAC vehicle, is essentially an open invitation to foreign bribes and payoffs. It’s no surprise the investor list is secret. The one constant in Trump’s business history is that investors get screwed and he walks away unscathed. Given Trump’s political following a social and media venture seems like it could be quite profitable. But most people can succeed with casinos too. Just not Trump. And those were the days of formal investments, prospectuses, business plans, formal commitments. A SPAC is a blank check. Invest now. Find out what you’re investing in later. No one with big money would invest in such an enterprise with the hope of financial returns…

    • Yeah, somebody was saying on the teevee last night that Trump is soliciting foreign “investment,” and the “investors” must think he could still influence U.S. policy. As far as Nunes is concerned, who knows? Maybe Trump has something on him.

      • Don't forget Nunes was in the Ukraine thing. Is he the congressman that then Speaker of the House said (jokingly) the congressman most likely in the employ of Russia? 

        Nunes has been the clown trying to prevent negative coverage by suing news outlets for unflattering reports. It's Nunes wet dream to be the minister of propaganda with control over all news. 

        Trump tried to play the media as president the way he did as a "big deal tycoon" in NYC. They didn't go for it which is why Trump shut down daily briefings. But controlling the narrative is essential for an authoritarian regime. 

        Want to know who else knows that the free press has hampered Trump more than any other single factor? Putin. If Trump steals the election he has to silence the media. How? I'm not sure but Trump needs a reliable way of forcing his message out as the dominant version. 

        I'm sure Trump will steal from his media venture, but he'd like to control his social media. There's a million places this can fail but don't underestimate the underlying malice of Trump or Nunes.

  4. Two things to remember:

    1) Trump owes at least $221 million over the next four years to god knows who but we can probably guess.

    2) "Truth" in Russian is Pravda.

Comments are closed.