WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Wednesday that the Senate should investigate tech billionaire Elon Musk’s alleged role in thwarting a Ukrainian drone from attacking Russia’s naval fleet last year in the Black Sea.
“We need to investigate how this happened, what’s in those contracts that permits him to have this kind of power?” Warren said to reporters outside a forum about artificial intelligence on Capitol Hill that Musk participated in with other major tech CEOs.
Warren, who attended the event that was closed to the public and press, said that it’s Congress’ responsibility to investigate what unfolded.
The U.S. military, she added, should also evaluate its contracts with SpaceX. The Pentagon announced in June that it had agreed to purchase Starlink satellite internet terminals from Musk’s SpaceX to be used in Ukraine amid its lengthy war with Russia.
“It is also the responsibility of the Department of Defense to go back and take a look at those contracts,” she said. “That kind of activity poses a danger to the United States, to Ukraine and to the rest of the world.”
The Democratic senator — who is a member of the Armed Services Committee, including the subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities — had told reporters earlier this week that the Pentagon needs to probe “our contractual relationship with SpaceX.” She said, “Congress needs to review this.”
“Foreign policy is made by the United States government, not by one billionaire,” she said. “The Congress needs to investigate what’s happened here and whether we have adequate tools to make sure that foreign policy is conducted by the government and not by one billionaire.”
SpaceX didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
The revelations about Musk’s involvement in Ukraine’s planned attack appeared in an extract from historian Walter Isaacson’s upcoming book about the CEO, which were recently published by CNN.
The excerpts claimed that Musk secretly ordered his engineers to turn off his Starlink satellite network over Russian-occupied Crimea last year in order to prevent a Ukrainian drone attack.
In response to the report, Musk denied that he turned off the service but indicated he did not agree to a request to activate Starlink because he didn’t want SpaceX to get directly involved in the conflict.
“The Starlink regions in question were not activated. SpaceX did not deactivate anything,” Musk said in a response to a thread on X, formerly known as Twitter, about the book’s claims.
“There was an emergency request from government authorities to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol,” he said in another response, referring to a key port city in Crimea that is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. “If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.”