A report from Bloomberg claimed last week that officials in the administration were weighing an investigation into the Starlink satellite network, a project of SpaceX which has aided Ukraine, and the pending purchase of social media platform Twitter. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the outlet said that officials view Musk’s calls for a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine as a move that favors Russia.
Shares of Twitter had fallen more than 5% on Friday morning in reaction to the news since the sources said that officials are considering a review of Musk’s coordination with overseas business magnates to acquire Twitter.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, however, denied that the national security review is being considered. “Those reportings are not true,” she said. “We’ll leave that there. The national security review, that is not true. And I really don’t have more to say on that piece.”
Musk has established an adversarial relationship with the Biden administration over the past two years. Beyond jabs against the commander-in-chief and his alleged senility on social media, the world’s richest man believes Tesla has been consistently snubbed by the White House because the electric automaker is not unionized.
After Biden assumed office and introduced the Build Back Better Act, which would have expanded federal social programs such as universal preschool, childcare subsidies, and climate change initiatives, Musk actively balked at the legislation. “I would say can this bill, don’t pass it. That’s my recommendation,” he argued during a conference. “If this bill happens or doesn’t happen, we don’t think about it at all really. Honestly it might be better if the bill doesn’t pass.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) already began investigating Musk earlier this year because the billionaire allegedly failed to report acquiring more than 5% of Twitter’s shares within 10 days of meeting the threshold. The agency said in a letter that officials want a response from Musk even if he does not believe that their concerns apply to his circumstances.
Twitter 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 claimed there is lackluster support for free expression on Twitter. He began his shakeup campaign several months ago with a poll for his millions of followers regarding the platform’s adherence to the principle of free speech.
Musk, who announced plans to downsize the workforce at Tesla earlier this year, reportedly plans to cut headcount at the social media company from 7,500 to 2,000. When Twitter employees asked him about his plans for enabling virtual work, Musk informed them that it would be “much better if you are on location physically.” He repeated concerns about costs exceeding revenues and signaled a willingness to dismiss unproductive employees. “If somebody is getting useful things done, that’s great,” he said. “If they aren’t getting useful things done, then why are they at the company?”