- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2022

Republicans cheered the news of billionaire Elon Musk becoming Twitter‘s largest shareholder Monday night while Democrats feared the tech magnate’s acquisition could mean the return of former President Donald Trump on the social media platform.

“We have a chance to get some conservative voices and fairness out of Twitter, which we clearly haven’t gotten, because we’ve seen them shutting down conservative thought over the years,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, told The Washington Times. “Maybe this is a sign that things are changing.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin, Maryland Democrat and member of the House Judiciary Committee, was less enthusiastic about Mr. Musk’s acquisition of the biggest single piece of the company.

“I suppose that improves the prospects for Donald Trump being readmitted to Twitter,” he told The Times.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican, agreed that Mr. Trump’s chances of being allowed back on to Twitter increased.

“I just can’t wait to have President Trump back on Twitter. I actually put out a tweet, a little over a week ago, saying Elon needed to buy Twitter and fix this,” she said.

“I don’t trust Congress to fix social media, so I’m really excited,” she added.

According to a regulatory filing Monday, Mr. Musk has taken a 9.2% stake in the popular social-media platform, buying almost 73.5 million shares. This equals an estimated value of $2.9 billion.

Twitter‘s stock rose 25% during trading on Monday after news of the investment.

Rep. Tom Malinowski, New Jersey Democrat, only asked, “What could go wrong?” to the news of Mr. Musk‘s acquisition.

Twitter permanently banned Mr. Trump from its platform in 2021, accusing him of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The company also has banned or suspended other accounts associated with conservatives, including the Babylon Bee, Project Veritas’s James O’Keefe, and Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Jim Banks of Indiana and Barry Moore of Alabama.

Twitter‘s stock jumped over 27% today because free speech sells. I hope Elon makes big changes,” Mr. Banks told The Times.

Twitter also suspended The New York Post’s account before the 2020 election when the paper first published its exclusive about the explosive content of the laptop belonging to President Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

It also prevented other users from sharing the story, a move cheered by Democrats and progressives who falsely said the laptop was Russian disinformation.

Mr. Musk, a prolific tweeter with more than 80 million followers, asked Twitter users last month and later through a poll if Twitter if they thought Twitter was committed to free speech.

After users overwhelmingly responded negatively, Mr. Musk asked open-ended questions about what should be done and whether a new platform was necessary.

It is unknown how Mr. Musk could influence Twitter going forward.

Other lawmakers are waiting to see how much influence he may have on the social media giant.

He‘s a rich guy. He can buy a lot of things. I don’t know whether he will deal at all in their editorial decisions. And it’s the kind of company you’d expect Elon Musk to be interested in investing,” said Rep. Brad Sherman, California Democrat.

Rep. Rodney Davis, Illinois Republican, is also waiting it out and wondered whether Mr. Musk‘s presence as Twitter‘s largest shareholder means it “going to stop suppressing free speech” on the platform “from conservatives.”

“I think time will tell whether or not there’s influence,” he said.

Twitter‘s annual meeting of stockholders is set for May 25. The meeting’s agenda will include elections for the company’s board of directors.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of Twitter followers that Mr. Musk has.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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