In context: Being the richest person in the world, Elon Musk is often an interesting figure to the US government, especially since SpaceX provides Starlink services and equipment to Ukraine. Last week, he reported that officials in the Biden administration were discussing whether some of his business ventures should be subject to national security assessments, but the White House has denied these claims.
According to Bloomberg, US officials were concerned about Musk’s actions in recent weeks, especially his claim that SpaceX could not continue to supply and support Starlink in Ukraine.
Musk said that supporting Ukraine by providing it with Starlink services so it can continue to use the internet in the face of Russian aggression has cost the company $80 million so far, with the amount expected to drop by the end of the year. will exceed $100 million. He said SpaceX must create, launch, maintain and supplement satellites and ground stations, and pay telcos to access the Internet through gateways, all of which cost nearly $20 million a month. Musk also noted that the terminals have data usage that is 100x greater than that of typical households.
Days after complaining that the government would have to pay part or all of SpaceX’s bill in Ukraine, Musk returned and confirmed that the company would fund Starlink in the country “indefinitely.”
The US was also reportedly concerned about Musk’s apparent pro-Russian stance. He tweeted a poll asking his 107+ million followers if they agreed with his peace plan that saw Crimea become an official part of Russia while Ukraine remained neutral. It drew much criticism from politicians and even from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Musk also had to deny reports that he had discussed the prospect of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine with Vladimir Putin.
Then there’s the Twitter saga. The US government’s objection would be less about the owner of the platform and more about the foreign investors helping fund the deal. They include Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, Binance Holdings (founded and run by a Chinese citizen), and Qatar’s state wealth fund. Bloomberg writes that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) could investigate the Twitter deal on national security risks.
Now, however, the White House has said reports of national security investigations being conducted on Musk’s business ventures were simply “not true.”
“Those reports aren’t true. So we’ll leave it at that. The national security assessment — that’s not true,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said (via CNET) when asked about the reports.
Elsewhere, Twitter recently responded to reports that Musk plans to cut 75% of his workforce when he takes control. It gave a rather non-committal response: “We have no confirmation of the buyer’s plans after close and recommend not following any rumors or leaked documents, but rather waiting for the facts from us and the buyer directly.”