Yellen downplayed the prospect of a government review of Musk’s Twitter acquisition, contending earlier in the month during a CBS interview she saw “no basis” for one, but during an event hosted by the New York Times on Wednesday, Yellen reversed course, claiming she “misspoke.”
“I’m not going to say specifically what we are looking at,” Yellen added, according to Bloomberg. “We don’t comment on what’s in progress.”
Musk’s ties to foreign investors have drawn intensified scrutiny from skeptics such as President Joe Biden, who argued Musk’s “relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at.”
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal alongside his Kingdom Holding Company was the second largest investor in Twitter following the $44 billion takeover, Politico reported. Additionally, Musk has heavy investments in China for the production and sales of his Tesla electric cars.
Some members of the Chinese Communist Party have prodded him to strip “state-affiliated media” labels from their Twitter accounts, raising questions about the influence of the CCP on his stewardship of the social media giant.
As treasury secretary, Yellen leads the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which studies foreign investment. Initially, Yellen downplayed those concerns when pressed by a CBS correspondent who was piggybacking off Biden’s remarks in favor of investigating Musk’s ties to foreign investors.
“We really have no basis — to the best of my knowledge — to examine [the] finances of his company,” Yellen told the outlet earlier this month.
Now, she is keeping the door open, insisting if there are risks, “it would be appropriate for CIFUS to take a look,” reports said.
Musk’s ties to foreign investors have drawn scrutiny because of his contract work with the federal government. SpaceX has contracts with NASA and his Starlink satellite internet system has been used to help Ukrainians coordinate the fight against Russian invaders.
Yellen also confirmed that Chinese-owned social media company TikTok is mustering government scrutiny. The Biden administration has been mulling whether to continue to allow the platform to operate in the United States under the ownership of Chinese parent ByteDance, according to reports.
“Well, that’s something that’s a case in progress,” Yellen explained. “I think there are legitimate national security concerns.”