Elon Musk “vehemently” opposed Twitter’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump, saying the social-media giant was wrong for “censoring … a sitting president,” according to a report.
Jared Birchall, Musk’s top assistant who has been described as the “point man” for the Tesla CEO’s $44 billion takeover bid of Twitter, told an associate that the idea of banning a sitting president from Twitter was “insane,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Musk reportedly “remains dismayed” that Trump is still not permitted to tweet, according to the paper, which cited unnamed sources close to the situation.
Since news of the takeover was announced, Musk has given no indication as to whether he will allow Trump back onto the platform. Trump supporters have been energized by the prospect of Musk taking control of Twitter and overhauling its content moderation policy.
Trump, for his part, has vowed not to return to Twitterinstead touting his own social media platform, Social Truth. Meanwhile Musk, in a rare public reference to the situation last week, said Truth Social is due for a name change.
“Truth Social (terrible name) exists because Twitter censored free speech,” Musk tweeted. “Should be called Trumpet instead!”
The 45th president was removed from Twitter following the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots, in which his supporters sought to disrupt Congress’ certifying Joe Biden’s election. Trump was accused of inciting the crowd and then not doing enough to urge his followers to leave.
Twitter’s decision to ban Trump was a key point of disagreement between Musk and then-CEO Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey was initially opposed to removing Trump from Twitter, but came around to the idea after reaching the conclusion that the former president violated the service’s terms of usage, according to the Journal.
Nonetheless, Dorsey and Musk remained on friendly terms and maintained a dialogue, according to the paper.
Dorsey “whispered” to Musk that Twitter should be a privately owned company, according to the report, which details how other billionaires urged the Tesla boss to follow through on his takeover of the social media platform.
Dorsey, the Twitter co-founder who stepped down as CEO last year, has endorsed Musk’s imminent purchase of the company, saying that the world’s richest man is a “singular solution” for the San Francisco-based firm.
The Journal also reported that Musk mused about possibly buying Twitter earlier this year after speaking to the CEO of The Babylon Bee.
Musk and Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon spoke in March after the satirical, right-wing news site was banned from Twitter for mocking Rachel Levinethe transgender Biden administration official.
The Bee ran a satirical news story awarding Levine its honors of “man of the year,” prompting Twitter to impose the ban.
Dillon told the Journal that after he confirmed to him that the Bee was indeed removed from the site, Musk floated the possibility of buying Twitter.
If Musk completes his takeover, Dorsey stands to gain financially, as he would go home with a $978 million payout. Dorsey owns 2.4% of Twitter shares, which translates into 18,042,428 shares, according to SEC filings.
Musk was also persuaded to buy Twitter after consulting fellow billionaire friends who like him shared a distance over what they perceived as a heavy-handed censorship policy, according to the Journal.
Other associates who leaned on Musk to make a move on Twitter include members of the so-called “PayPal Mafia,” a group of executives who helped found and build the online payment site PayPal.
Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor who co-founded PayPal, and David Sacks, the founding COO of PayPal, were among the group egging Musk on, according to the Journal.
Musk also reportedly received advice from his brother, Kimbal Musk, a restaurateur who also serves on the board of Tesla.