Via FinkelBlog. Imagine Bob Mueller’s team of super-lawyers toiling away, trying to connect the dots on collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice, looking up from their desks at the office TV only to see two poindexters from the SEC frog-marching POTUS out of the White House for stock manipulation.
Which would quickly be followed by a Amazon-led coup installing Jeff Bezos as Lord Protector of the United States, naturally. We could do worse! Dilly dilly.
I think Morning Joe’s joking, though. People don’t typically begin serious analyses of securities law with “I’ve watched enough episodes of ‘Billions’ to know…”
On today’s Morning Joe, Scarborough said that President Trump:
“lies about [Amazon], causes its stock to go down. I’ve watched enough episodes of Billions to know that if you’ve spread lies about a company or product to cause its stock prices to go down . . . the SEC should be coming after you.”
POTUS has indeed spread false information about Amazon, causing its stock to fall. I’ll defer to legal eagles on this as always but my understanding is that there’s no legal action for manipulating a company’s shares unless you intend to profit from it (or intend to help someone else profit from it.) The SEC does ban various shady practices that involve intentionally deflating the price of shares via lying — the “poop and scoop,” the “short and distort” — but in both of those cases, the liar or one of his cronies is attempting to make a killing on the artificially deflated stock. There’s zero evidence that Trump is seeking to profit by tanking Amazon or that he has any interest in its shares. He’s trash-talking it to profit psychologically, as revenge on Bezos for the Washington Post’s unflattering coverage. It’s perfectly legal for the commander-in-chief to smear a company out of petty vindictiveness, I assume. God bless America!
MarketWatch checked in with the experts. Sounds like the Resistance’s endless crusade to drive Trump from office will need to look elsewhere for justifications:
If someone in the White House or close to Trump knew he would send the tweets that slammed Amazon, and found a way to dump their shares or short the stock, there could be a claim against them — and Trump himself — if he knowingly tipped them off, under insider-trading laws.
If the president had instead planned to announce cancellation of the U.S. Postal Service contract, or an order to investigate the company, a reasonable person would expect that such a specific action would have an impact on the stock price…
“Perhaps he just wants to antagonize Jeff Bezos,” says Matetsky, “but with no evidence of any trades and no personal connection to Amazon, a stock manipulation or insider-trading case would be tough for anyone to bring.”
No need to attribute to greed what’s better explained by childish vengeance. Now, if we find out that Jared was on the phone with his broker one morning inquiring with POTUS in advance about the subject of that day’s forthcoming Twitter rant, then we’re cooking. It could happen! That gargantuan debt isn’t going to pay itself off.