Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter for $44 billion in April. After a protracted legal fight, which included Musk trying to back out of the deal, Musk became the owner of Twitter on October 26.
US President Joe Biden noted during a Wednesday address on the midterm election results that billionaire Elon Musk needed to be “looked at” when asked whether the entrepreneur was a threat to US national security.
“Do you think Elon Musk is a threat to US national security,” Jenny Leonard of Bloomberg asked. “And should the US, with all the tools you have, investigate his joint acquisition of Twitter with foreign governments, which include the Saudis?”
Biden laughed at the question before answering: “I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at. Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that. It warrants being looked at.”
Since Musk’s purchase of Twitter, Alwaleed bin Talal is now the second largest investor in the site. Musk purchased Twitter with the help of several large investors, including Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and cryptocurrency exchange Binance. But it’s the Saudi investment that has some worried.
The largest equity holder after Musk is Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holdings Co., which is owned by bin Talal, who agreed to roll over the company’s $1.89 billion stake in the company when Musk purchased it.
The sale has caused controversy inside and outside of the site itself for a variety of issues. In regards to the Saudi connection, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) sent a letter to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), asking them to look into the sale.
Murphy said he wants to ensure the protection of “the national security interests of the United States and American citizens,” adding that “any potential that Twitter’s foreign ownership will result in increased censorship, misinformation, or political violence is a grave national security concern.”
CFIUS, chaired by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, has the ability to stop sales that raise red flags. If a national security risk is found, it could reverse the deal or order the Saudi company to divest its investment in the company.
Saudi Arabia has the eighth-most Twitter users worldwide. The country’s government provides little protection for free speech and has been accused of numerous human rights violations. Musk, who calls himself a “free speech absolutist” has promised to bring free speech back to the platform.
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