National security threat? President Biden says Elon Musk’s relationships with other countries “is worthy of being looked at”
Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter continues to deliver twists and turns, with the latest being a potential national security angle.
Asked on Wednesday whether Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter CEO Elon Musk posed a threat to national security, President Joe Biden said that the billionaire’s “relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” CNBC reported.
It comes after a chaotic couple of weeks in charge at Twitter, after Musk dissolved the board of directors, fired most of the senior management at the firm, coupled with an exodus of executives from the platform.
Musk has also axed at least half of platform’s 7,000 strong workforce, which saw Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey (who backed Musk’s takeover) this week apologising to staff, saying he believed he had expanded the 16-year-old social media platform too quickly.
Musk has not provide much reassurance either – tweeting that “Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.”
Now this week, at a White House press conference on Wednesday, the US President was specifically asked: “Do you think Elon Musk is a threat to US national security and should the US, with the tools you have, investigate his joint acquisition of twitter with foreign governments, which include the Saudis?”
“Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” President Biden replied. “Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate – I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting it’s worth being looked at and that’s all I’ll say.”
Elon Musk is known to be not a fan of President Biden and recently has bashed Democrats, and stated it would be better if Democrats didn’t control the Senate and House of Representatives.
However he recently tweeted that his party affiliation was been independent and until this year had voted Democrat in the past.
And I’m open to the idea of voting Democrat again in the future
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2022
Saudi, Russia, China
President Biden’s comments about Elon Musk reflects concern in certain US political circles about his relationships with countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and even China, which is one of Tesla’s most important markets and where the EV maker also has a huge factory.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who is no fan of Musk by any means, had previously suggested that if Musk brought Twitter, he could face censorship pressure from Beijing.
Musk has not helped his case either.
In an interview with the Financial Times published in October Musk suggested a way to resolve tensions between China and Taiwan could be to “figure out a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable”, although he acknowledged this “probably won’t make everyone happy”.
In August a former Twitter executive found guilty in San Francisco courtroom of spying for Saudi Arabia and accessing account data.
One of Twitter’s major shareholders, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, had previously rejected Elon Musk’s $54.20 offer, saying it offered no “intrinsic value of @Twitter given its growth prospects.”
The prince has a long term stake in Twitter via his investment firm Kingdom Holding Company, which holds 5.2 percent of Twitter.
Musk responded to the Prince’s concerns via Twitter at the time.