Digital World Acquisition Corp., the blank-check company that has proposed merging with Donald Trump’s media company, said it fired chairman and CEO Patrick Orlando.
“Due to the unprecedented headwinds faced by the company, the board agreed it was in the best interest of its shareholders to select a new management team to execute an orderly succession plan and set strategic operating procedures for the company in this new phase,” DWAC said in a statement. “Mr. Orlando’s departure enables the board to appoint new leadership, which it believes will restore confidence to the shareholders.”
Trump Media & Technology Group previously announced plans to combine with DWAC, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), to become a publicly traded entity. The deal would provide TMTG with up to $1.3 billion in capital, according DWAC filings.
DWAC didn’t elaborate on the “unprecedented headwinds” it cited for terminating Orlando. The proposed merger with Trump Media was delayed after DWAC disclosed that the agreement was being probed by the SEC. Subsequently, DWAC also disclosed that it had received subpoenas in a federal grand jury investigation in the U.S. Justice Department’s Southern District of New York seeking information on its financial dealings in connection with the proposed TMTG deal. Last week, the Guardian reported that federal prosecutors had investigated $8 million in payments to Trump Media, loans that allegedly had been arranged by Orlando, for potential money-laundering violations.
Meanwhile, Trump is the subject of a separate federal grand jury proceeding in Manhattan that is investigating the ex-president’s role in a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 presidential election. That could result in Trump’s indictment and arrest.
Trump Media & Technology Group, led by CEO Devin Nunes, operates Truth Social, which is now the former president’s preferred social media platform.
In announcing Orlando’s termination, Miami-based DWAC said board member Eric Swider has been appointed interim CEO effective immediately. Swider has served on DWAC’s board since September 2021. He has been serving as CEO of Rubidex since January 2020, a software development start-up focused on data security. Swider is the founder of Renatus Advisors, which “works with private clients to resolve complex strategic and operational matters as well as public clients, providing services related to disaster and economic recovery.”