(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman said Tuesday she’s unaware of any discussions about a potential national security review of Elon Musk, yet acknowledged that there are concerns in the US government about the Tesla Inc. CEO’s remarks on Ukraine.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about a Bloomberg News report last week on unease within the Biden administration about Musk’s ventures in light of recent comments he’s made about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden administration officials have discussed whether the US should subject some of Musk’s ventures -- including his bid to acquire Twitter Inc. and his SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network -- to national security reviews, according to people familiar with the matter.
“I’m saying I don’t know of any such discussions,” Jean-Pierre told reporters during a briefing at the White House.
The people familiar with the discussions said again this week that the deliberations are continuing, though no decisions have been made.
Some US officials have become alarmed by Musk’s recent threat to stop supplying the Starlink satellite service to Ukraine -- he said it had cost him $80 million so far -- and what they see as his increasingly Russia-friendly stance following a series of tweets that outlined peace proposals favorable to President Vladimir Putin. They are also concerned by his plans to buy Twitter with a group of foreign investors.
Jean-Pierre was asked if the administration is concerned about Musk’s Twitter purchase or his comments on Russia.
“On the first piece, on the Twitter purchase, that’s something that we would not comment on from here. We do not comment on transactions,” she said.
“On his comments about Ukraine and giving up territory I know that Mr. Musk has been very, very vocal about that,” she said. “He’s a private citizen, with a private company, and our position and the government’s position has been very clear, as I have laid out many times here before on how we see that process moving -- it is up to Ukraine.”
One possibility is that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a panel that reviews acquisitions of US companies by foreign buyers, could probe Musk’s activities, according to the people familiar with the discussions. They added that it’s not clear such a review would be legal.
The panel operates behind closed doors and rarely confirms when it is conducting reviews. CFIUS also holds the power to review deals that have already been consummated.
Musk is a US citizen, but some of the investors partnering with him for the Twitter purchase are foreign, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, Binance Holdings Ltd. -- a digital-asset exchange founded and run by a Chinese native -- and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.
Musk said Sunday that he would not discontinue Starlink service in Ukraine. He pledged Monday to close the Twitter transaction by Friday in a video conference call with bankers helping to fund the deal, according to people familiar with the matter.
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