With the acquisition of Twitter set to accelerate into a dramatic close, another twist has begun to unfold for the social network: the Biden Administration is launching a security review of Elon Musk's ventures. What will they uncover?
With Elon Musk's stance on Russia and threats to cut Twitter's workforce by 75%, the United States Government began to evaluate whether some or all of Musk's ventures - from SpaceX to Starlink - should be placed under review, Bloomberg reports. The news sent Twitter stock tumbling over 8% down and raised concerns that the world's richest man may start to see some constraints on his business activities. While it is unclear what, if any, impact such a national security review might have on the completion of the $44 Billion acquisition of the social media network, the news is likely to set investors on edge as they race to complete financing and paperwork for the acquisition.
News leaked last week when Twitter disclosed in public filings that federal probes of the deal were already under way with both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). And while a more extensive security probe of the purchase has long been predicted for months, analysts did not think connections that Musk has with the sovereign funds of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and China would necessarily derail the prospects. Other aren't so sure, however.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) generally reviews foreign takeovers of American businesses, and per Business Insider, the agency could recommend that President Biden terminate the deal on national security grounds. SpaceX's Starlink internet service, and Musk's threats to cut access to people in Ukraine, is apparently at the heart of the most recent concerns. Fiona Hill, the United States' leading intelligence analyst on Russia, warned that Musk had become compromised and was actively promoting Russian policies with his latest peace plan proposal (which sparked widespread outrage) to resolve Russia's disastrous invasion of Ukraine.
"Putin plays [on] the egos of big men - gives them the sense that they can play a role. But in reality, they are just direct transmitters of messengers from [Russian President] Vladimir Putin."
- Fiona Hill to Politico
Much remains to be seen about why the outspoken entrepreneur has been evidently advocating political positions from authoritarian regimes in both Russia and China in recent weeks. In addition to suggesting that Ukraine surrender sovereign territory to Russia as a part of a deal to end the unprovoked war, Musk also received praise from the Chinese Communist Party for suggesting that Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that China has never controlled, be placed under a special Chinese administration.