House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday that the Biden administration needs to leave Twitter and its new owner Elon Musk alone, following a White House spokeswoman saying officials were closely watching the company and Mr. Musk.
The California Republican told reporters outside the White House he was offended that the Biden administration would consider probing Mr. Musk and Twitter.
“I think our First Amendment stands up and I think they should stop picking on Elon Musk,” Mr. McCarthy said. “Elon Musk has succeeded in many places, I’d bet on him more than government going after you.”
Mr. Musk urged independent voters to support a Republican takeover of Congress in 2022, and he attended a retreat led by Mr. McCarthy earlier this year, according to Bloomberg.
The Biden administration has followed the SpaceX and Tesla CEO’s takeover of Twitter and pledged to remain vigilant about the social media platform’s conduct this week.
Asked about the Biden administration’s scrutiny of Twitter, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday her team was watching closely and it was the social media platforms’ job to take action against misinformation and hate.
“We are all keeping a close eye on this, we are all monitoring what’s currently occurring,” she said. “And we see it with our own eyes of what you all are reporting and just for ourselves what’s happening on Twitter.”
Her comments followed President Biden saying earlier this month that Mr. Musk’s relationships with other countries were “worthy of being looked at,” without explaining who would conduct a governmental examination.
Mr. McCarthy questioned the legitimacy of the Democrats’ grievances.
“What do they have to look at Twitter about?” he said Tuesday. “Do they want to go more after American public about whether they can have an opinion on something?”
More Democrats have called for closer scrutiny of Twitter since Mr. Musk bought the company in October and began loosening the social media giant’s restrictions on speech.
Seven Senate Democrats wrote to the Federal Trade Commission this month asking it to conduct vigorous oversight of Twitter and investigate potential violations of consumer protection laws.
Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, said last month that the Biden administration needed to probe foreign funding of Twitter with a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
Mr. McCarthy’s reprimand of the Biden administration’s potential scrutiny of Twitter comes after years of Republican lawmakers scrutinizing the company’s previous leadership. In 2018, the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee questioned then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Mr. Dorsey has faced questions from Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress while running Twitter, including in testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee ahead of the 2020 election.