WASHINGTON — The White House declined Thursday to explain President Biden’s shocking call for a federal investigation of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter on national security grounds after Musk vowed to end partisan censorship on the platform.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre deflected attempts to clarify Biden’s Wednesday press conference remark.
Sullivan said at the regular White House briefing that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which includes members of several federal agencies, usually looks at foreign investments, but declined to say anything more.
“Well, you heard the president yesterday, and the CFIUS process is the normal process through which transactions that might have a national security nexus get reviewed, and I will defer to the CFIUS process rather than comment on it further from this podium,” Sullivan said.
Jean-Pierre also declined to provide more information, saying, “Jake Sullivan just answered that question. I’m just not going to go beyond that.”
Biden made the unusual demand for an investigation of Musk after previously denouncing his stated goal of restoring free speech principles to the social media network.
“Do you think Elon Musk is a threat to US national security?” a reporter asked Biden at his third solo White House press conference. “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 cooperation 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.
At the same press conference, Biden brushed off inquiries into his own family’s foreign business dealings as “almost comedy.” As vice president, Joe Biden met repeatedly with son Hunter and brother James Biden’s international associates — including from China, Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, according to Hunter Biden laptop documents.
Democrats have bemoaned Musk’s Twitter purchase saying that his goal of more free-flowing conversation actually would allow for the spread of misinformation.
Biden slammed Musk on Friday in Chicago for owning a platform that “spews lies” and complained last month in Los Angeles that “there are no editors anymore in America.”
Musk, who also owns electric car maker Tesla and aerospace firm SpaceX, formally took over Twitter last month.
It’s unclear how Biden’s request for an investigation of Musk might impact his other ventures.
SpaceX has massive US government contracts, including a $4.93 billion concession for taking astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. Last year, the Biden administration awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a lunar lander to return humans to the moon.
Biden snubbed Tesla last year, however, by not inviting the top-selling electric vehicle maker to an e-vehicle expo at the White House, apparently because it lacks a unionized workforce.
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.
“Those reportings are not true,” Jean-Pierre said Oct. 24. “So we’ll leave that there. The national security review, that is not true.”