US President Biden has called for a federal investigation of billionaire businessman Elon Musk, who recently purchased Twitter with a stated goal of restoring free-speech principles.
“Do you think Elon Musk is a threat to US national security?” Bloomberg reporter Jenny Leonard asked Mr Biden at his third solo White House press conference as reported by the New York Post.
“And should the US — and with the tools you have — investigate his joint acquisition of Twitter with foreign governments, which include the Saudis?”
“I think that Elon Musk’s co-operation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” Biden answered.
“Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting that it’s worth being looked at.“
“How?” veteran journalist Brian Karem followed up.
“There’s a lot of ways,” Biden said without elaborating.
Musk, who also owns electric car maker Tesla and aerospace firm SpaceX, formally took over the social network last month.
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Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has had a stake in Twitter since 2011 and his firm Kingdom Holdings currently owns about 4 per cent of the platform, making him the second-largest shareholder after Musk.
Biden snubbed Tesla last year by not inviting the top-selling electric vehicle maker to an e-vehicle expo at the White House, apparently because it lacks a unionised workforce. SpaceX, however, receives large US government contracts.
The president urged an investigation of Musk while taking a victory lap after Democrats fared better than expected in the midterm elections — with control of the House and Senate still undetermined as vote-counting continues.
At the same press conference, Biden laughed off inquiries into his own family’s overseas business relationships, saying that the “American public wants to move on” and “it’s almost comedy.”
Musk bought Twitter after the site’s staff increasingly censored content damaging to Biden — including banning distribution of The Post’s bombshell October 2020 articles citing Hunter Biden’s laptop documents that linked Joe Biden to his son’s ventures in China and Ukraine.
Republicans have vowed to get to the bottom of Joe Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter and brother James’ overseas dealings if they retake subpoena power.
As vice president and during the years before he was elected president, Joe Biden met repeatedly with Hunter and James Biden’s international associates — including from China, Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, according to the laptop documents.
The first son is currently under investigation for possible tax fraud, illegal foreign lobbying and money laundering.
Biden called for a federal investigation of Musk despite his own press office saying that Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was not under federal investigation.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre specifically denied at an October 24 briefing that Musk’s Twitter takeover was subject to a national-security review.
“Those reportings are not true. So we’ll leave that there. The national security review, that is not true,” Jean-Pierre said.
Democrats have bemoaned Musk’s acquisition, saying that his goal of less censored conversation actually would allow for the spread of misinformation.
Biden slammed Musk’s plans on Friday in Chicago, objecting that “there are no editors anymore in America.”
Free-speech advocates returned fire, pointing out Biden’s routine tellings of false, exaggerated or unverifiable accounts at public events.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley noted that Biden recently earned a “Bottomless Pinocchio” from the Washington Post’s fact-checker.
“Biden’s ‘bottomless Pinocchio’ from the Post is a highly ironic moment given his recent defence of censorship because citizens need ‘editors’ to tell them what is true,” Turley wrote. “Indeed, he asked, if we did not censor social media, ‘how will people know the truth?’”
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and was reproduced with permission.