“Friends for years”: Billionaire donor Elon huddles with Kevin McCarthy ahead of Twitter hearing

Both McCarthy and an aide to Dem leader Hakeem Jeffries deflate Elon Musk’s Capitol “meeting” hype

By Rae Hodge

Staff Reporter

Published January 27, 2023 12:49PM (EST)

Elon Musk | Twitter (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Elon Musk | Twitter (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Billionaire political donor and Twitter CEO Elon Musk reportedly met privately on Thursday with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as Congress prepares to open its investigation into Twitter's handling of users' posts. Musk's public embellishment of the meeting was quickly debunked by both McCarthy and a Democratic aide, who refuted Musk's claim that he had met with both McCarthy and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., to discuss partisanship in Twitter's policies.

"Just met with Speaker McCarthy and Rep. Jeffries to discuss ensuring that this platform is fair to both parties," Musk tweeted Thursday. 

That's not what happened, according to McCarthy, who told Scripps News' Nathaniel Reed that Musk just dropped in to wish the speaker a happy birthday.   

"Leaving a meeting with Elon Musk, Speaker McCarthy won't elaborate on what the two discussed, besides saying they've 'been friends for years,' and that Musk came to wish him a happy birthday," Reed reported in a tweet. 

As Bloomberg pointed out in a Friday tweet, however, Musk is also a longtime McCarthy donor, and urged his massive Twitter audience to vote Republican in 2022. 

McCarthy also reportedly lobbied Twitter officials — both personally and through his chief counsel — to restore the Twitter account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., which had been suspended for peddling conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Musk's claims of a meeting with Jeffries were quickly disputed.  

"For what it's worth, an aide to Jeffries tells me that there was no pre-planned meeting with Musk scheduled. Jeffries was meeting with McCarthy in the speaker's office and, as it was ending, Musk came in, the aide said," Darcy said in a Tweet. 

"They didn't have a meeting. They met. It was mostly just an introduction," the aide reportedly told Darcy. 

Musk's Capitol appearance comes just as the House Oversight Committee reportedly prepares to hold hearings on Twitter's previous attempts to regulate the spread of political misinformation on its platform — focusing specifically on its short-lived efforts to stymie the spread of the New York Post's now-infamous article about the contentes Hunter Biden's laptop. 

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CNN's Melanie Zanona reported on Thursday that hearing may be held as early as Feb. 8. 

"Some news here: Sources tell ⁦(CNN's Donie O'Sillivan) and me that the House Oversight Committee is in active talks to have three former Twitter employees testify, and looking at Feb. 8 as a potential target date for a hearing on Twitter and the Hunter Biden laptop story," Zanona said.  

The expected February hearing would be the first of several under Oversight Committee chair Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who has continually indicated the investigation will be a sweeping affair. 

"We're going to have every single people at Twitter that was involved in this in front of the House Oversight Committee as soon as possible," Comer said in a Dec. 2 appearance on Fox. 

By Rae Hodge

Rae Hodge is a science reporter for Salon. Her data-driven, investigative coverage spans more than a decade, including prior roles with CNET, the AP, NPR, the BBC and others. She can be found on Mastodon at @raehodge@newsie.social. 


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Aggregate Elon Musk Hakeem Jeffries Kevin Mccarthy Oversight Committee Republicans Twitter