Twitter owner Elon Musk said he met with both House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) Thursday afternoon to “discuss ensuring that [Twitter] is fair to both parties,” after facing backlash for endorsing Republicans in the 2022 midterms and banning several of his critics despite being a self-proclaimed advocate of “free speech.”
It’s not clear how long Musk met with leaders or what was discussed—McCarthy’s only comment to reporters on the matter was saying Musk “came for my birthday,” according to CNN (McCarthy turned 58 Thursday).
The meetings come as Republicans on the House Oversight Committee gear up for a February hearing to review how Twitter may have buried a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, which has been the subject of recent “Twitter files” threads from Musk allies that have been lambasted for lacking context.
Representatives for McCarthy and Jeffries did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Forbes.
Despite describing himself as non-partisan and saying Twitter should appeal to both the right and the left, Musk has become an increasingly vocal critic of Democrats on the platform while echoing hard-right talking points, like saying earlier this month it’s not clear if a second Covid booster shot “helps or hurts.” He also suggested—without evidence—that he’s worried the Biden Administration might abuse its powers to wage politically charged attacks against Twitter if former President Donald Trump starts tweeting again, saying, “They may try to weaponize Federal agencies against Twitter.” His recent behavior has caused clashes with Democrats in Congress, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who told the Hill she’s concerned Musk is leading Twitter in a way “to make the whole marketplace run to suit himself and his own ego.” Some of the biggest gripes with Musk’s management have been over his seemingly arbitrary decisions to suspend accounts, which have often involved some of his biggest critics violating hastily enacted new rules. In December, Musk banned several journalists for allegedly sharing links to a tracker monitoring his private jet, but later lifted some of the bans after he launched a poll where most respondents voted in favor of reinstating the suspended accounts.
Musk recently started contacting investors in the hope of raising $3 billion to pay off some of the $13 billion in loans he took out to buy the company last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Twitter’s revenue has taken a massive hit after several major companies pulled back on Twitter ad spending over concerns about loosened moderation policies. Musk warned in November that Twitter could go bankrupt if the company “doesn’t start generating significantly more revenue.”
Twitter is facing pressure in Europe over its moderation rules. The European Union has reportedly warned Musk that Twitter could be banned there if he doesn’t agree to an “extensive independent audit” of the platform’s content policies and reinstatement procedures.