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Biden admin wants nat’l security review of Elon Musk’s businesses: Report

Elon Musk meets with U.S. Air Force Academy Cadets (U.S. Air Force/Joshua Armstrong)
October 21, 2022

The Biden administration is brainstorming ways to review controversial entrepreneur Elon Musk’s business dealings for national security threats, according to Bloomberg.

Officials are discussing how the Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s ventures, including his Twitter buyout and Starlink satellite network, can legally be reviewed for national security risks, anonymous sources told Bloomberg.

One potential concern is foreign investment in his deal to buy Twitter, including from a Saudi prince, a Chinese-run digital asset exchange, and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, Bloomberg reported.

Musk recently told prospective Twitter investors he plans to lay off three-quarters of Twitter employees, doubling down on already-planned cuts. Such a move would put Twitter users and their data at an increased risk of cyberattacks, a data scientist and former Twitter employee told the Washington Post.

Another consideration is Musk’s recent threat to cut off Starlink internet service to Ukraine, which came after he tweeted a proposal for a Russia-friendly peace deal to end Russia’s invasion of that country.

Musk reportedly spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin before tweeting that proposal, political scientist Ian Bremmer said Musk told him. Musk later denied Bremmer’s claim.

Communication through Starlink satellites has supported Ukraine’s resistance, but Musk said SpaceX can’t indefinitely shoulder the costs, which he said would exceed $100 million by the end of the year. He later reversed the threat, Bloomberg reported.

Sources told Bloomberg that the U.S. government would also use Starlink during a telecommunications outage.

A potential vehicle to review Musk’s businesses is through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which looks out for national security risks in certain transactions involving foreign people, Bloomberg reported.

The committee’s review would involve the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security, but it isn’t clear yet whether its review would be legal, sources told Bloomberg.