Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen retracted comments about a government review of Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter Inc. Now, she claims if national security concerns are raised, more scrutiny might be in order.
If there are general risks, "it would be appropriate for CFIUS to take a look," she said Wednesday at an event hosted by the New York Times, referring to the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S., which she heads.
Yellen said she previously "misspoke" when she said she saw "no basis for a review" in an interview with CBS News this month.
"I'm not going to say specifically what we are looking at," said she on Wednesday. "We don't comment on what's in progress."
Her remarks drew inquiry from President Joe Biden relating to Musk's connections to foreign governments, particularly China and Saudi Arabia.
"I think that Elon Musk's cooperation and or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at," said Biden.
In the CBS interview, Yellen said she was "not sure precisely" what Biden was referring to but added, "We have really no basis — to the best of my knowledge — to examine his finances of his company," and "I'm not aware of concerns that would cause us to."
The national security concerns come amid overlapping business ventures like Musk's Starlink satellite internet network, which has been used in Ukraine to maintain communications during the conflict with Russia. Musk briefly threatened to cut the communications last month.
In a separate issue, Chinese-owned video app TikTok is already under scrutiny. Yellen said, "Well, that's something that's a case in progress," and, "I think there are legitimate national security concerns."
The Biden administration is considering a proposal to allow TikTok to continue to operate in the U.S. under the ownership of Chinese parent ByteDance Ltd. The proposal would route U.S. user traffic through servers maintained by the American multinational Oracle Corp.
Yellen also addressed the collapse of crypto trading platform FTX, China, and the global economy.
She called the FTX scandal "the Lehman movement within crypto," in reference to the downfall of investment-banking giant Lehman Brothers in 2008.
She commented on China's zero-COVID policy, saying it is a "threat to the progress we've made on human supply-chain difficulties."
"We can see that their economy is slowing, perhaps to the point where it will really negatively impact the entire global outlook," Yellen added.
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