GOP sees potential politicization of SEC as regulator holds up Truth Social merger
"We're gonna get to the bottom of it," said GOP Rep. Dan Meuser, a member of the House Financial Services Committee.
Republicans increasingly fear that the Securities and Exchange Commission may be the latest venue for the Biden administration's suspected "weaponization" of the federal government as the regulator stalls approval for a proposed merger between Trump Media & Technology Group and Digital World Acquisition Corp.
Should the merger go through, it would allow for Donald Trump's Truth Social platform to become publicly traded on the stock exchange. The SEC has delayed the merger for roughly a year.
Speaking on the John Solomon Reports podcast on Monday, Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Dan Meuser, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, excoriated SEC Chairman Gary Gensler over the issue, pointing to his past ties to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign for president against Trump.
It is "absolutely inexplicable why we have seen immense delays, immense delays to the point of it's been about 355 days, I think exactly 355 days, of waiting on a review, a response, and approval," said the lawmaker. "Where typically this takes about 100 days, under Gary Gensler, it takes 130 days.
"So why is it that this was such an outlier? ... [W]e have some serious concerns about conflicts of interests. And this is not a boogeyman situation. Gary Gensler in 2016, the chairman of the SEC, was the CFO, the chief financial officer for the Hillary Clinton campaign."
Meuser recalled that Gensler testified under oath that he wrote the check to pay for the now-debunked Steele Dossier, the infamous document alleging a nonexistent connection between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. "So certainly he has a conflict of interest on anything related to Donald J. Trump," he said.
"Melissa Hodgman," he went on, "was married to that wonderful character, [fired anti-Trump FBI agent] Peter Strzok ... She is the director of enforcement at the SEC, overseeing the approval process for this, this merger. And we all remember good old Peter Strzok, who stood in the way and wrote emails on how we can't let Donald Trump be president and lied about it ... and yet the wife is overseeing this."
Further pointing to SEC General Counsel Megan Barbero's past work on the impeachments of former President Trump, he asked, "Why haven't any of these people recused themselves?"
Changing gears, Meuser argued that the SEC's failure to approve the merger was harming existing investors who have money in the firm.
"The SEC has a mission statement," he said. "Their mission statement is threefold: to protect investors — and they're certainly not doing that, he has 20 million people who are hanging out to dry; maintain fair and orderly markets — not doing that; and facilitate capital formation. So none of that is being carried out.
"We are asking for equal justice. And I am telling you, we are going to stay on this until we get it. The conflict of interest is there. It's obvious. But they still should be asked to follow the law and engage in a somewhat orderly manner. And they're simply not doing that. They're not reviewing, they're not providing feedback on the S-4, which is the registration statement that's needed for approval."
Meuser sees an irony in the regulators' foot-dragging. "They're not harming President Trump," he said. "President Trump is a very, very wealthy man, the value of Truth Social is not going anywhere, right? Only those ... individual investors could be harmed because of the SEC's treatment of this."
Meuser disclosed that he had met with SEC officials and received promises that he would get data related to the merger.
"We want to know how much of an outlier this is," he said. "How abnormal? ... And we're going to find that out. And we're also going to find out what is the legal basis for the delay and everything else that we need to know. Because that's only asking reasonable transparency from a taxpayer-funded agency, which the SEC is.
"We're gonna get to the bottom of it."
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.