According to a report, Elon Musk “strongly” opposed Twitter’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump, saying the social-media giant was mistaken for “sensing … a sitting president”.
Musk’s top aide Jared Birchall, who has been described on Twitter as the “point man” for the Tesla CEO’s $44 billion takeover bid, told an aide that the idea of banning a sitting president from Twitter was “crazy,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Musk reportedly “remains disappointed” that Trump is still not allowed to tweet, according to the paper, which cited unnamed sources close to the situation.
Since news of the acquisition was announced, Musk has given no indication whether he would allow Trump back on stage. 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 Twitter, instead touting his own social media platform, Truth Social. Meanwhile, Musk said last week in a rare public reference to the situation that Truth Social is due for a name change.
“Truth Social (horrible name) exists because Twitter censors free speech,” Musk tweeted. “Should have called Trumpet instead!”
The 45th president was removed from Twitter following the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots, in which his supporters sought to disrupt the Congress ratifying the election of Joe Biden. Trump was accused of not doing enough to stir up the crowd and then urge his followers to leave.
Twitter’s decision to ban Trump was a major point of disagreement between Musk and then-CEO Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey was initially opposed to removing Trump from Twitter, but the idea came after he concluded that the former president had violated the terms of service, according to the Journal.
Nevertheless, Dorsey and Musk remained on friendly terms and maintained a dialogue, according to the newspaper.
Dorsey “whispered” to Musk that Twitter should be a privately owned company, according to reports that described how other billionaires urged the Tesla boss to follow through on his acquisition of the social media platform.
Twitter co-founder Dorsey, who stepped down as CEO last year, has backed Musk’s imminent buyout of the company, saying the world’s richest man is a “singular solution” for the San Francisco-based firm.
The Journal also reported that Musk thought about buying Twitter after talking to the CEO of The Babylon Bee earlier this year.
Musk and Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon spoke in March after Twitter was banned for mocking transgender Biden administration official Rachel Levine on the satirical, right-wing news site.
The Bee ran a satirical news story honoring Levine as “Man of the Year”, prompting Twitter to ban it.
Dillon told the Journal that when he confirmed that Bee had indeed been taken off the site, Musk raised the possibility of buying Twitter.
If Musk completes his acquisition, Dorsey will benefit financially, as he will go home with a payout of $978 million. According to an SEC filing, Dorsey owns 2.4% of Twitter shares, which translates to 18,042,428 shares.
According to the Journal, Musk was persuaded to buy Twitter after consulting his fellow billionaire friends who perceived what he believed to be a heavy-handed censorship policy.
Other allies leaning on Musk for making the move on Twitter include members of the so-called “PayPal Mafia,” a group of executives who helped found and create the online payments site PayPal.
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and the likes of PayPal’s founding COO David Saks Musk, was among the likes of the group, according to the Journal.
Musk also reportedly got advice from his brother, Kimbal Musk, a restaurateur who also serves on Tesla’s board.