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Democratic Senator Calls for 'Immediate' Federal Investigation of Twitter After Musk Takeover

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In the aftermath of Elon Musk’s official acquisition of Twitter on Oct. 27, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut called for a probe on Monday into some of the financing behind Musk’s deal for the social media platform.

In an Oct. 31 letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Murphy said that he had concerns about the Saudi Arabian and Qatari private investors behind Musk’s $44 billion Twitter deal.

Murphy, who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, requested that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States look into the foreign investments behind the Twitter deal.

“I write to draw your attention to potential national security concerns arising from the recently completed takeover of Twitter, Inc. by Elon Musk and a number of private investors. As has been publicly reported, at least $1.89 billion of the financing necessary for Musk’s bid to take Twitter private was secured from members of the Saudi Arabian royal family,” Murphy’s letter read.

“Another $375 million came from the Kingdom of Qatar. Collectively, these stakes account for approximately 5% of the new ownership of Twitter. Given Twitter’s critical role in public communication, I am concerned by the potential influence of the Government of Saudi Arabia,” the letter continued.

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Murphy further spread the news by tweeting about his request to Yellen.

“Today I am requesting the Committee on Foreign Investment — which reviews acquisitions of U.S. businesses by foreign buyers — to conduct an investigation into the national security implications of Saudi Arabia’s purchase of Twitter,” Murphy tweeted on Monday morning.

There are indeed Middle Eastern private investors that were involved in the Twitter deal, as Securities and Exchange Commission filings showed.

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One member of the Saudi royal family has a particularly large stake in Twitter now, according to an SEC filing submitted on Oct. 27.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz was one of the private investors behind Musk’s deal and invested $1.89 billion, as he himself noted in a tweet with a press release outlining his new stake in the social media giant.

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This makes Prince Alwaleed the second largest shareholder in Twitter, as he and Kingdom Holding now have about 5 percent of Twitter’s public shares, according to the SEC filing. Forbes, which said Alwaleed owns 95 percent of the Kingdom Holding investment firm, calculated that Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding now own about 4 percent of Twitter.

In light of these investments, Murphy insisted in his letter to Yellen that the transaction be looked into for the sake of national security.

“CFIUS must also review noncontrolling investments in certain sensitive US businesses, including companies that develop critical technologies and businesses that possess sensitive personal data on US citizens. The purpose of these reviews is clear: to protect the national security interests of the United States and American citizens,” Murphy’s letter noted.

“I call on CFIUS to immediately conduct a review of the recent changes in Twitter’s ownership and governance. It is essential to our national security that public officials and citizens alike can continue to rely on this platform to be a neutral platform, free of foreign influence,” the letter concluded.

With Murphy’s insistence on looking into the Middle Eastern investors behind Musk’s Twitter deal, many on Twitter have been complaining that Musk decided to get some of his cash for the deal from such investors.

“Don’t call it free speech. The Saudis paid billions for their part ownership of Twitter to brainwash Americans with disinformation. Still, a bargain when you think about it,” one account tweeted.

“Elon Musk owning Twitter is weird enough. Saudi Arabia partnering with him to become the second largest shareholder takes it to a whole other level of wait wut? Given how dedicated they are to human freedom and all,” political activist and author Marianne Williamson tweeted.

But as many others have pointed out, Middle Eastern investment in Twitter is nothing new. The platform has had Saudi Arabian investors for many years.

“Saudis have been invested in Twitter for a while. It may be concerning, but the timing of this and the fact Murphy wants an investigation of Twitter, not Chinese-owned TikTok, is SUPER TELLING,” Mark Hemingway, a senior writer at RealClearInvestigations tweeted.

“And this would by why Chris Murphy suddenly wants to open an investigation into 11 year old Saudi investments into twitter. These people had their favorite toy taken away from them and I’m done hearing about ‘muh threat to democracy’ from these people,” Stephen Miller also tweeted.

Musk has not yet commented on Murphy’s proposed scrutiny of the private investors or on the Middle Eastern investors themselves.

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