Elon Musk said that if his deal to buy Twitter closes he would “reverse the permanent ban” and let former President Donald J. Trump back onto the social network, undoing the social network’s decision after Mr. Trump’s tweets about the riots at the U.S. Capitol last year.
“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump, I think that was a mistake, because it alienated a large part of the country, and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” Mr. Musk said at a Financial Times conference on Tuesday.
Twitter, along with other platforms including Facebook, barred Mr. Trump from tweeting in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building. Twitter said at the time that Mr. Trump had violated policies and risked inciting violence among his supporters. Facebook banned Mr. Trump for similar reasons.
Mr. Musk called the decision to ban Mr. Trump “morally wrong and flat-out stupid.” He said individual posts to Twitter could be hidden, and that individuals could still be temporarily suspended “if they say something that is illegal or otherwise just, you know, destructive to the world.” But he said that “permanent bans just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter.”
Mr. Musk, who leads the electric carmaker Tesla and the rocket company SpaceX, is in the process of completing a takeover bid for Twitter, which accepted his $44 billion offer last month. The acquisition is expected to close over the next three to six months.
He had avoided spelling out publicly how he would handle the status of Mr. Trump’s ban. But he had repeatedly stated his intentions to expand free speech on the platform and has suggested that Twitter has hewed to Democratic politics.
Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox News in late April that he would not rejoin the platform, even if Mr. Musk lifted the ban. “I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on Truth,” he said at the time, referring to his app, Truth Social.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.