George Conway argues a new report indicates Trump broke federal law by manipulating the markets
In President Donald Trump's desperation to generate a better news cycle for himself, he may have committed criminal market manipulation, according to conservative legal expert George Conway.
Conway, who is married to top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and was once considered for a high-level position in the administration, pointed to a section of a recent CNN report. Earlier this week, as tensions have been growing over his trade war with China, Trump offered the market some reassurance by saying he received calls from the regime's officials about restarting trade talks.
Though Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted there had been "communication," aides privately conceded the phone calls Trump described didn't happen they way he said they did.
Instead, two officials said Trump was eager to project optimism that might boost markets, and conflated comments from China's vice premier with direct communication from the Chinese
"What this describes is, quite literally, market manipulation that constitutes criminal violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934," Conway argued on Twitter, citing the above passage.
Law professor Jennifer Taub agreed with Conway's assessment.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission defines market manipulation on its website as follows:
Manipulation is intentional conduct designed to deceive investors by controlling or artificially affecting the market for a security. Manipulation can involve a number of techniques to affect the supply of, or demand for, a stock. They include: spreading false or misleading information about a company; improperly limiting the number of publicly-available shares; or rigging quotes, prices or trades to create a false or deceptive picture of the demand for a security. Those who engage in manipulation are subject to various civil and criminal sanctions. [emphasis mine]
It's not clear whether anyone has ever been charged with market manipulation on the scale of Trump's comments, and as is well known by now, a president cannot be criminally indicted while in office under current Justice Department policy. But it may be one of the charges prosecutors could consider once Trump is no longer president.
There have been previous indications that Trump has engaged in criminal market manipulation long before his political career. In May, the New York Times published an in-depth investigation of Trump's sketchy financial history. One of the bombshell revelations was that in the 1980s, Trump appeared to repeatedly profit in the stock market by investing in companies, suggesting he was going to take them over, watch the share price rise as a result, and then pulling out his money before the market realized he was bluffing. Many observers noted when the story was published that it could be describing criminal market manipulation.