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Trump Media CEO asks House GOP to launch stock manipulation probe


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Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks during an impeachment inquiry hearing in Washington, Nov. 13, 2019.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Trump Media CEO Devin Nunes on Tuesday urged House Republican committee leaders to investigate possible “unlawful manipulation” of the company’s stock.

Nunes, himself a former House GOP chair, in a letter asked them to probe “anomalous trading” of the stock in order to gauge the extent of the alleged manipulation and “whether any laws including RICO statutes and tax evasion laws were violated.”

The request doubles down on Nunes’ claim that Trump Media, which trades under the ticker DJT, is the apparent victim of “naked” short selling, the practice of selling a company’s shares without first borrowing them for that purpose.

Trump Media, which began trading on the Nasdaq on March 26 after completing a lengthy public merger, was far and away the most expensive U.S. stock to short as of early April.

Brokers therefore “have a significant financial incentive to lend non-existent shares,” Nunes wrote.

The probe is necessary to protect the company’s shareholders and to ensure that “the perpetrators of any illegal activity can be held to account,” he wrote.

The CEO addressed the letter to four House committee leaders: Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., and Oversight Chairman James Comer, R-Ky.

Spokespeople for the four chairmen did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment on Nunes’ letter.

The letter comes as the stock price of Trump Media, which created the social media app Truth Social and is majority-owned by former President Donald Trump, continues to trend down in volatile trading sessions.

DJT shot up in its trading debut and has touched a high of nearly $80 a share, but it has since lost more than half of that value.

The stock dropped nearly 5% early Wednesday but turned positive before noon, trading around $33 per share.

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DJT price for past month

The letter from Nunes also escalates a feud with Citadel Securities, the capital markets firm founded by GOP megadonor Ken Griffin.

Nunes referenced Citadel Securities in an April 18 letter to Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, warning that DJT “appears on Nasdaq’s ‘Reg SHO threshold list,’ which is indicative of unlawful trading activity.” He referenced Citadel Securities again in the new letter he sent to Congress.

The Reg, or Regulation, SHO list was designed to monitor short sales and flag potentially problematic failures to deliver securities to parties in a transaction. But “there are many justifiable reasons why broker-dealers do not or cannot deliver securities on the settlement date,” the SEC notes on its website.

Nunes told Friedman in his letter that more than 60% of DJT shares have been traded by just four market participants, including Citadel Securities.

The firm responded…



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