House Republicans came to the defense of Elon Musk on Thursday, criticizing Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan over an agency investigation they say borders on “obsession” with Twitter and its owner.
The swaggering support for the billionaire dominated a hearing Thursday of the House Judiciary Committee that oversaw the agency’s work under Khan’s leadership. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), set the tone early on, calling Khan’s leadership a “disaster” and suggesting that the FTC’s Twitter investigation was politically motivated.
“Why are you hounding Twitter?” Jordan put pressure on Khan on Thursday. “This was not harassment. It was a jolt.”
The hearing came hours after Musk asked a federal court to end the FTC’s investigation of Twitter over possible breaches of user privacy and to rescind an agreement he signed with the agency last year. In the filing, Musk’s X Corp. claimed the investigation “had gotten out of hand and tainted with bias.”
Shortly after Musk took over Twitter last year, the FTC began investigating whether the company had the resources to maintain the privacy of its users. Under a consent decree Twitter signed with the FTC in 2011 (later expanded in 2022), it must tell the FTC about how it protects consumer data and coordinate regular security audits.
In response to complaints from Republicans, Khan pointed out that the FTC imposed the privacy restrictions that Musk cursed more than a decade ago. “Twitter has a history of lax privacy and security policies,” he said.
Republicans also criticized recent court rulings by the Khan FTC to challenge the mergers, including a decision this week that allowed Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard, suggesting it was a ploy to get Congress to pass new antitrust rules.
“Are you losing on purpose?” Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA) asked Khan. “You’re losing because you don’t have the authority you want from Congress.”
Khan denied those reasons on Thursday, but previously suggested that losses in court could force Congress to come up with tougher competition regulations. according The New York Times.