A group of 18 Republicans in the US House of Representatives has asked Twitter’s board of directors to preserve all records related to Elon Musk’s unsolicited bid to acquire the firm, indicating plans for a possible congressional probe.
The Republican Party may return to a majority in the House this autumn, and if it does so Republicans would be in a position to launch a formal investigation into the social media firm, which has been a focus of ideological controversy for some.
Musk on 14 April presented a “best and final” offer to buy Twitter for $43 billion (£33.4bn), saying he plans to take it private in order to bolster expansion and turn it into a platform for free speech.
In a letter shared by several news outlets, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee asked Twitter board chairman Bret Taylor and other board members to preserve messages related to the bid from official or personal accounts, including those sent through encryption software.
“As Congress continues to examine Big Tech and how to best protect Americans’ free speech rights, this letter serves as a formal request that you preserve all records and materials relating to Musk’s offer to purchase Twitter, including Twitter’s consideration and response to this offer, and Twitter’s evaluation of its shareholder interests with respect to Musk’s offer,” the lawmakers said in the letter.
The letter was signed by ranking Republican Jim Jordan and others on the committee and Judiciary subcommittees.
Democrats on the panel didn’t sign the letter and did not immediately comment on the matter.
If Republicans take control of the House, the Judiciary Committee could subpoena records about the board’s internal deliberations with regard to the bid.
The lawmakers said they were concerned over the Twitter board’s “reactions to Elon Musk’s offer to purchase Twitter, and outsider opposition to Musk’s role in Twitter’s future”.
“Decisions regarding Twitter’s future governance will undoubtedly be consequential for public discourse in the United States and could give rise to renewed efforts to legislate in furtherance of preserving free expression online,” the letter added.
Twitter’s board failed to respond to Musk’s offer and adopted a “poison pill” measure to block the proposed takeover.
Musk said in a regulatory filing last week he had secured $46.5bn in debt and equity financing to buy Twitter and is considering taking the offer directly to shareholders.
He also said in the filing he is considering a tender offer to buy all company stock from shareholders.
Twitter said last week it was conducting a “careful” review of the bid.
“The board is committed to conducting a careful, comprehensive and deliberate review to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the company and all Twitter stockholders,” the company said.
Twitter has been criticised by some conservatives for allegedly unfairly removing or moderating posts on ideological grounds, and for blocking the account of then-president Donald Trump after the 6 January 2021 riots in the US Capitol.