Washington, D.C. — Government watchdog Accountable.US released a new report this morning detailing possible efforts by former President Donald Trump during the closing months of his administration to curry favor with key allies of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in exchange for help with Trump Media & Technology Group. The report follows news this week that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking into investors in Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that is slated to merge with Trump’s new social media venture and bring it public.
“The American people deserve to know if Trump used the power of his office to arrange a deal with Bolsonaro or top members of Brazil’s government to help get his company off the ground in exchange for pushing policies that would benefit the Bolsonaro regime,” said Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog Accountable.US. “The timeline is highly suspect and Congress needs to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. If the former President once again put his own business interests ahead of the needs of American families, those involved must be held accountable.”
Accountable.US also sent a letter to the House Oversight Committee this morning urging the committee to investigate the former president’s potential conflicts of interest or shady dealings with foreign government officials regarding the media venture.
The suspect timing of the SPAC’s incorporation in December 2020 — a month after Trump’s election loss but before his departure from office — paired with Trump’s pursuit of a slate of Brazil-friendly U.S. policies in the same timeframe already raises some questions. But the SPAC bringing on Luiz Philippe, a Bolsonaro ally and likely one-time member of the shortlist to be Bolsonaro’s vice president, as CFO makes the need for further investigation of potential cooperation between Trump and Bolsonaro while the former still occupied the Oval Office even clearer.
KEY BACKGROUND FROM ACCOUNTABLE.US:
- In September 2021, the special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Digital World Acquisition Corp announced that it would take Trump’s new social media company, Trump Media & Technology Group, public.
- Digital World Acquisition Corp was first incorporated in December 2020 — a month after Trump’s loss in the 2020 Election but before his departure from office.
- Around the same time Digital World Acquisition Corp was established, in the waning days of Trump’s term, the former president pursued a series of international policies that would aid Bolsonaro’s Brazil. This included the Trump administration striking a trade deal to facilitate commerce between the U.S. and Brazil less than a month before the 2020 Election and declaring Brazil a “major non-NATO ally” while removing COVID-19-based travel restrictions in the months before he left office.
- Trump also officially endorsed Bolsonaro for re-election in October 2021 — an unusual move for an ex-president.
- Notably, Digital World Acquisition Corp’s chief financial officer is Luiz Philippe — a major political ally of the Bolsonaro regime. Philippe was elected in 2018 to Brazil’s parliament as a member of Bolsonaro’s far-right Social Liberal Party following speculation during the campaign that he was among those highest in the running to become Bolsonaro’s vice president.
- Documents from Digital World Acquisition Corp evidence Philippe’s involvement in the SPAC since at least when it first filed with the SEC in May 2021, suggesting that he was an early addition to the SPAC’s leadership.
Read the watchdog’s full report here.
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