OAKLAND — Billionaire Elon Musk took to Twitter late on Thursday to denounce as “utterly untrue” claims in a news report that he had sexually harassed a flight attendant on a private jet in 2016.

Business Insider reported earlier on Thursday that Musk’s SpaceX paid US$250,000 (RM1.1 million) in 2018 to settle a sexual harassment claim from an unnamed private jet flight attendant who accused Musk of exposing himself to her.

The article quoted an anonymous person who said she was a friend of the flight attendant. The friend had provided a statement as part of the private settlement process, according to the article.

“I have a challenge to this liar who claims their friend saw me ‘exposed’ — describe just one thing, anything at all (scars, tattoos, …) that isn’t known by the public. She won’t be able to do so, because it never happened,” Musk tweeted.

Reuters was not able to verify the Business Insider account. Musk and SpaceX did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on the Business Insider story or on Musk’s tweets.

In addition to allegedly exposing himself, Musk rubbed the flight attendant’s thigh and offered to buy her a horse if she would “do more” during an in-flight massage, Business Insider quoted the friend of the flight attendant as saying.

The flight attendant came to believe that her refusal to accept Musk’s proposal had hurt her opportunities to work at SpaceX and prompted her to hire a lawyer in 2018, according to Business Insider.

The rocket company made the settlement out of court and included a nondisclosure agreement which prevented the flight attendant from speaking about it, Business Insider said. The news site did not name the friend or the flight attendant.

Musk, who is also chief executive of Tesla Inc TSLA.O and is in the midst of a contentious effort to buy Twitter Inc TWTR.N, said on Wednesday that he would vote Republican instead of Democrat, predicting a “dirty tricks campaign against me” would follow.

In the Business Insider article, Musk was quoted as saying the flight attendant’s story was a “politically motivated hit piece” and that there was “a lot more to this story.”

On Thursday evening, Musk first tweeted: “The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens — this is their standard (despicable) playbook — but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech.” In the initial tweet, he did not specifically mention the allegations in the Business Insider article.

“And, for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue,” Musk added in another tweet.

He also tweeted that the article was meant to interfere with the Twitter acquisition.

Reuters could not immediately reach Business Insider for comment. — Reuters

Elon Musk says he ‘can no longer support’ Democrats, ‘will vote Republican’

SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk said on Wednesday that while he voted for Democrats in the past, he will now vote for Republicans.

“In the past I voted Democrat, because they were (mostly) the kindness party. But they have become the party of division & hate, so I can no longer support them and will vote Republican,” he tweeted.

“Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold,” said Musk, the world’s richest man, who has agreed to buy Twitter Inc.

Trump broke his silence as Elon Musk sealed a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, which last year permanently banned Trump citing a risk of further violence following the Jan. 6, 2021 siege by a pro-Trump mob on the U.S. Capitol.

Tesla’s stock fell 6.8% on Wednesday, after he announced his support for Republicans and Tesla was removed from a closely-watched sustainable index.

Tweets mocking Elon as being “poor Elon” were trending on social media platform Twitter, sparking his mother Maye Musk to weigh in with her own tweet to defend her son.

“Poor Elon might only be the 2nd or 3rd richest man in the world now,” one twitter user said.

“Poor Elon. No liberals are going to buy his cars anymore, when there’s so many nicer options,” another said.

Musk’s mother criticized some tweets for “nasty comments” and alleged they were “troll or bot”, referring to fake accounts.

Twitter is aflutter with revolt and rebellion over its takeover by Tesla’s Elon Musk, the world’s richest individual.​​So great is the ferment in the social media company that it has blocked its developers from making changes to the app amid fears of sabotage by angry staffers.

Musk has been a vocal critic of the Biden administration and Democrats for their proposals to tax billionaires and give more tax incentives to union-made electric vehicles. Tesla does not have unions at its US factories.

Last year, Tesla, which counts California as its biggest market in the United States, moved its headquarters from California to the more politically conservative Texas.

Musk moved his personal residence from California to Texas, where there is no state income tax. He has sold about $25 billion worth of Tesla stock since last year in order to pay taxes and finance his proposed acquisition of Twitter. Analysts said the sales helped him cash in on Tesla’s stock rally and diversify his wealth. – timesofindia

MALAY MAIL / REUTERS / timesofindia

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