Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase not under U.S. government investigation


Despite President Biden’s concerns and calls from a top Democratic senator worried about the social network’s international financial institution, federal authorities have no plans to open an investigation into Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter with the help of foreign investors. There are no plans, according to two people familiar with the matter. supportive

Musk’s purchase of the site came under scrutiny after reports that the deal offered special incentives to major foreign investors, including a Saudi prince’s holding company and a China-based cryptocurrency exchange. . But at least for now, U.S. officials at the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) don’t believe they have jurisdiction to formally investigate the deal, according to the two people. who were briefed on the committee’s decision and discussed the condition. Anonymity to reflect internal government communications.

The US is exploring whether it has the authority to renegotiate Musk’s Twitter contract.

The committee’s mandate is to examine acquisitions of American companies by foreign owners. Musk is an American citizen. Although the $44 billion deal relies on $2.5 billion from foreign backers and granted some of them unusual privileges, including exclusive access to Twitter user data, investigators don’t think the circumstances are federal. meet the intervention criteria.

“They haven’t completely closed the door on it, but they’re pretty sure they don’t have jurisdiction,” said one of the people briefed on the matter.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen chairs the committee. A Treasury spokesman declined to comment.

Twitter officials did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Musk.

Late last month, Musk met with top lawmakers on Capitol Hill and White House aides. The billionaire met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other top GOP lawmakers at the Capitol, as the new Republican majority in the chamber increased pressure on social media companies over claims of bias against conservatives. Considers. The House Oversight and Accountability Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on whether former Twitter management improperly suppressed stories about a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden ahead of the 2020 election. While in Washington, Musk also met with two White House officials, John de Podesta and Mitch Landrieu, who are overseeing the implementation of President Biden’s infrastructure and clean energy bills.

Musk did not speak with White House officials on Twitter, according to a third person familiar with the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

The financing of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter raised major concerns among some Democratic policymakers as the deal went through last fall. Those concerns were deepened by the revelation that those who invested $250 million or more in Musk’s purchase of Twitter would have access to more information than a lower-level investor. The car will get. Saudi-run funds and a Qatari sovereign wealth fund, as well as Chinese crypto firm Binance, invested more than that amount.

Biden said in November that Musk’s relationships with foreign investors were “worth watching.”

“I understand that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries are significant,” he said at a news conference after the November election, weeks after Musk’s purchase closed. “Whether he’s doing something inappropriate or not, I’m not suggesting it. I’m suggesting it’s worth watching.”

Earlier, in a letter to Yellen in October, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said that federal authorities should investigate whether Saudi influence over Twitter’s operations could interfere with government critics and humanitarian efforts. Can be used to silence, or further state-sponsored, rights activists. Disinformation campaign.

“CFIUS has a responsibility to review transactions that could result in the control of a U.S. business by a foreign person,” wrote Murphy, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I urge CFIUS to urgently review the recent changes in Twitter ownership and governance. It is vital to our national security that government officials and citizens alike continue to rely on this platform to prevent foreign influence.” Be a neutral platform free from

For now, at least, CFIUS No reason to do so was found. Larry Ward, A A partner in the national security law group at law firm Dorsey & Whitney said the committee can only examine potential data risks from an acquisition if foreign investors acquire a substantial stake in the firm, or otherwise. The government is required to file.

“The size of the shareholder’s investment would have to be significant,” Ward said. “As I understand it, the Saudis’ stake would not rise to the level of giving jurisdiction to the committee.”

Sarah Bauerl Danzmann, an associate professor at Indiana University and a former CFIUS staffer through her work with the State Department, added that another potential obstacle to investigations is that if foreign investors do not receive special rights, Such as access to non-public user data in a type of board set or acquisition.

“I thought it was a very sensitive issue that probably wouldn’t have been considered if Congress hadn’t requested it,” he said. “To the extent that there are concerns about the deal, most of them have more to do with Elon Musk himself than with the Saudis.”

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