The investigation by federal prosecutors and securities regulators into a proposed merger between a cash-rich blank check company and former President Donald J. Trump’s social media company has come closer to Mr. Trump’s end to the deal.
Federal prosecutors served grand jury summonses for the Trump Media & Technology Group and “certain current and former TMTG personnel,” according to a regulatory filing on Friday by the Digital World Acquisition, the special acquisition company that has a tentative agreement to merge with Trump Media.
A grand jury summons is usually issued in connection with a potential criminal investigation. The submission said that the Securities and Exchange Commission also delivered a subpoena on Trump Media this week.
Just days earlier, Digital World revealed that it had also received a major jury summons from federal prosecutors in Manhattan along with similar summonses to the board.
The grand jury summons appears to be related to previous SEC summonses on Digital World that sought communication regarding potential merger talks with representatives of Trump Media before Digital World’s first public offering in September.
The regulatory filing on Friday said that the grand jury summons served on Trump Media “sought a subgroup of the same or similar documents required in summonses to Digital World and its directors.”
The expanding investigation threatens to delay the completion of the merger, which will give Mr. Trump’s company and its social media platform, Truth Social, up to $ 1.3 billion in capital, in addition to an IPO.
The SEC investigation has focused on whether there were serious discussions between the management of Digital World and Trump Media before the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, was announced in September, and if so, why these talks were not revealed in regulatory records. SPACs, which raise money to go public in the hopes of finding a merger candidate, are not meant to have an acquisition target in mind when raising money from investors.
Regulators have also requested information on trading activity in securities in Digital World before the merger announcement in October. A few weeks before the merger announcement, there was a large increase in trading in Digital World warrants – a type of security that entitles the holder to buy shares at a specified price.
Trump Media is based in Sarasota, Florida, and is led by Devin Nunes, the former Republican congressman who became CEO this year. Mr. Trump, who has a licensing agreement with the company, is chairman of the board.
In a statement, Trump Media said they “will continue to cooperate fully with inquiries about our planned merger and will comply with recent subpoenas, none of which were directed at the company’s chairman or chief executive officer.”
It is unclear which current and former Trump Media personnel received subpoenas.
Truth Social, a Twitter-like platform, remains the company’s primary product. Mr. Trump has become a frequent poster on the platform in recent months.
This week, he repeatedly used the platform to criticize the testimony of a former White House assistant, Cassidy Hutchinson, in front of the January 6 congressional committee.
Trump Media has called Truth Social a “free expression” alternative to Twitter, which permanently prevented the former president from using his platform after the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Maggie Haberman contributed with reporting.