Bloomberg News reported that the administration is specifically wanting to scrutinize Musk’s Twitter deal and SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network.
The news comes after The Washington Post reported Thursday afternoon that Musk told prospective investors that he plans to get rid of “nearly 75 percent of Twitter’s 7,500 workers, whittling the company down to a skeleton staff of just over 2,000.”
The report said that even if the Musk’s acquisition of Twitter somehow does not go through, large cuts are still expected as the current people running the company planned to get rid of roughly 25% of the company’s staff.
The report said that the planned cuts by Twitter’s executives helped to explain why the company wanted to sell to Musk once he made the offer.
The social media platform had been fighting Musk in court over his attempt to cancel a previous offer to buy the company for $44 billion, a move he said was driven by concerns that executives were underestimating the actual number of fake accounts on the platform. Musk revived his efforts to purchase Twitter earlier this month. Beyond his concern about fake accounts, Musk has voiced criticism over lackluster support on Twitter for free expression.
The administration’s apparent desire to review SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network from a national security perspective likely is in reference to the company demanding that it be paid for its services last month in a letter to the Pentagon.
SpaceX’s director of government sales wrote to the Pentagon, “We are not in a position to further donate terminals to Ukraine, or fund the existing terminals for an indefinite period of time.”
Musk, who is the CEO of SpaceX, backtracked over the weekend on the company demanding payment for its services.
“The hell with it,” Musk said, “even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”
Politico reported Monday that U.S. officials with knowledge of the situation said that the Department of Defense wanted to pay for the satellites to continue operating over Ukraine because the U.S. did not like Musk’s unpredictability. Funding for the effort would likely come out of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which has been used to purchase things needed for the country’s war effort.
European officials are now also getting involved in discussions on funding Starlink as Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Politico Europe that the ability of Ukraine’s military to operate via satellite should not be determined by one “super-powerful” person who could just randomly decide one day to shut off Ukraine’s internet access.
“I figured that it’s probably way better to have this as a contractual agreement between, let’s say, a coalition of countries that could purchase a service from Mr. Musk, the Starlink service, and provide it to the Ukrainians and keep on providing it to Ukrainians,” Landsbergis said.
Musk responded to the Politico report by appearing to suggest that he did not want to be paid for the satellite’s service.
“SpaceX has already withdrawn its request for funding,” Musk said. “To be precise, 25,300 terminals were sent to Ukraine, but, at present, only 10,630 are paying for service.”