All Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee on April 22 ordered Twitter board members to preserve all records regarding Elon Musk’s effort to buy the technology company.
“As Congress continues to examine Big Tech and how to best protect Americans’ free speech rights, this letter serves as a formal request that you preserve all records and materials relating to Musk’s offer to purchase Twitter, including Twitter’s consideration and response to this offer, and Twitter’s evaluation of its shareholder interests with respect to Musk’s offer,” Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and the other Republicans told board members in the letters.
“You should construe this preservation notice as an instruction to take all reasonable steps to prevent the destruction or alteration, whether intentionally or negligently, of all documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that is or may be potentially responsive to this congressional inquiry,” they added.
Republicans are in the minority in the current term but hope to flip the chamber in the upcoming midterm elections.
If they do, they can subpoena documents and otherwise probe Twitter board deliberations.
The lawmakers expressed concern over what they described as an attack by Twitter and other large tech platforms against free speech, alleging that Big Tech’s “eroding commitment to free speech prevents informed public discourse and undermines First Amendment principles.”
As proof, they cited, in part, posts made on Twitter by Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla.
Lawmakers also said decisions regarding how Twitter is run in the future “could give rise to renewed efforts to legislate” to ensure free expression online and noted how board members have fiduciary duties to the company’s shareholders.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reps. Steve Chabot, Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Mike Johnson, Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Gregory Steube (R-Fla.), Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), Scott Fitzgerald (R-Wis.), Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.), and Burgess Owens (R-Utah) also signed the letters.
Some analysts have painted Twitter’s refusal to sell to Musk, who made what the company described as an “unsolicited offer,” as reneging on those duties.
Musk offered to buy Twitter for about $43 billion, but the company triggered a so-called poison pill plan instead of accepting the offer.
Twitter said the move was made “to protect stockholders from coercive or otherwise unfair takeover tactics.”
Musk has since said he’s exploring buying shares directly from stockholders to gain control of the company.