Elon Musk was in Brazil on Friday to meet President Jair Bolsonaro and discuss improving internet connectivity in the Amazon – the day after it emerged Musk’s SpaceX company paid a $250,000 settlement to silence an employee who accused the billionaire of sexual harassment.
Musk described the allegations, which date back to a 2016 encounter on board a SpaceX corporate jet, as ‘despicable’ and something that ‘should be viewed through a political lens’.
On Friday, he launched a search for ‘hardcore streetfighters’ to join a legal team he was building, to combat the allegations against him.
‘Tesla is building a hardcore litigation department where we directly initiate & execute lawsuits,’ he tweeted.
‘The team will report directly to me. Please send 3 to 5 bullet points describing evidence of exceptional ability.’
He added: ‘There will be blood.’
As the wild drama continued in the United States, Musk was in Sao Paulo, welcomed by the controversial Brazilian president, who is facing a strong challenge ahead of October’s election.
Elon Musk is seen on Friday in Sao Paulo, meeting Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro. The meeting was held to discuss improving internet connectivity in remote Amazon communities and to plan how to track deforestation. It is being seen as a coup for Bolsonaro, ahead of October’s election
Typically clean-shaved Musk sported some odd facial hair on the trip
Bolsonaro is pictured greeting the South African-born billionaire ahead of their meeting at a hotel in the countryside outside of Sao Paulo
Musk is seen with Fabio Faria, Brazil’s communications minister, on Friday
Lula, 76 – Brazil’s former president and Bolsonaro’s rival – and sociologist Rosangela Silva, 55, got married in Sao Paulo on Wednesday
Polls currently give his rival, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, an 11 point lead.
Bolsonaro, like his ideological bedfellow Donald Trump, has cultivated a strong presence on Twitter – which Musk is in the process of buying, for $44 billion.
The Brazilian leader, who has been temporarily banned from the site for spreading misinformation about quack COVID ‘cures’, and claiming the COVID vaccine gives a person AIDS, has repeatedly railed against the current policies at Twitter.
In October he announced he was banning social media companies from removing certain content – including his claims that the only way he’ll lose the 2022 elections if they are rigged.
On Friday, Bolsonaro called Musk’s proposed takeover a ‘breath of hope’, adding he hoped the U.S. billionaire would help end the ‘lies’ about his widely criticized stewardship of the Amazon rainforest.
Musk, who Bolsonaro called a ‘legend of liberty,’ has vowed to defend free speech on Twitter.
Bolsonaro tweeted: ‘I just talked to @elonmusk , who visits Brazil at the invitation of the Minister @fabiofaria . Among other subjects, we dealt with connectivity, investments, innovation and the use of technology to reinforce the protection of our Amazon and the realization of Brazil’s economic potential’
Bolsonaro has been globally condemned for advocating more mining and farming in the Amazon and for Brazil’s environmental backsliding.
Recent satellite data show deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has surged to a 15-year high under Bolsonaro.
‘We need, and are counting on Elon Musk for the Amazon to be known by all in Brazil and the world, to show how we have protected it, and how much harm is caused by those who spread lies about that region,’ he told a news conference.
Later, in a press conference without Musk, Bolsonaro gushed about meeting the U.S. billionaire.
‘It’s the start of a relationship which I’m sure will soon end in marriage,’ he said.
Bolsonaro added that Musk’s Twitter purchase would represent ‘the freedom of press that we always want and desire, total freedom, without limit,’ he said.
Bolsonaro also said that he was making Brazil’s Alcântara space base near the equator available to Musk’s rockets.
Musk tweeted on Friday afternoon that he aimed to discuss further monitoring of the rainforest and an effort to bring broadband internet to rural areas – a scheme that he had previously discussed with members of Bolsonaro’s government.
Musk was not asked about harassment allegations when he took questions after arriving in Sao Paulo, where he was also greeted by business leaders such as Telecom Italia Chief Executive Pietro Labriola and Banco BTG Pactual Chairman Andre Esteves.
Musk’s meeting with Bolsonaro, a longtime conservative firebrand who defends Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, is indicative of the right-ward drift of his personal politics.
On Wednesday, he said he previously voted for Democrats, but will now vote for Republicans.
For Bolsonaro, who has worried international observers as many fear that he may refuse to hand over power if he loses the October election, Musk’s visit was a public relations coup.
Bolsonaro lost an ally when Trump lost his 2020 re-election bid, and has not spoken with Joe Biden since he took office.
In November 2021, Musk met with Brazil’s Minister for Communications Fabio Faria in Austin, Texas, to discuss the rainforest in the Amazon.
Faria announced Musk’s meeting with Bolsonaro on Twitter.
He said: ‘At the invitation of the Minister of Communications, Fábio Faria, entrepreneur, Elon Musk arrives in Brazil on Friday to discuss Connectivity and Protection of the Amazon with the Brazilian government.’
The meeting was first reported by Brazilian news outlet O Globo. Also present at the meeting were Brazil’s minister of defense, Paulo Sergio Noguerio, as well as ’13 businessmen and executives.’
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, nicknamed ‘The Trump of the Tropics’ is up for reelection in October 2022
Musk tweeted: ‘Hodl the rainforests’ in 2021!!’ Hodl is a social media acronym for ‘Hold on for deal life’
According to the Twitter account ElonJet, that tracks the comings-and-goings of the billionaire’s private jet, Musk’s Gulfstream landed in Sao Paulo around 8 a.m. EDT.
The account notes that Musk’s journey to discuss the future of the rainforest would have used close to 30,000 pounds of jet fuel and created 47 tons of CO2 emissions.
Musk’s Gulfstream CG50 can hold up to 44,000 pounds of jet fuel or 6,597 gallons.
Bolsonaro said on a live broadcast Thursday night: ‘We’ll have a meeting with a world-renowned person, who’s coming to help our Amazon,’ reports Bloomberg. Bolsonaro did not mention Musk in the broadcast.
It is no secret that Bolsonaro has wanted Musk to build a Tesla factory in Brazil since at least 2020.
That year, Bolsonaro’s son, congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, met with officials at the U.S. embassy in Brasilia to discuss bringing those plans to fruition.
Musk touching down in his private jet in Los Angeles in February 2022. Musk’s CG50 can hold up to 44,000 pounds of fuel
Musk has lashed out at claims made in Insider that he paid $250,000 in severance to a SpaceX worker who accused him of exposing himself to her.
Those claims were made by the alleged worker’s friend.
Musk, who is the world’s richest man, branded the ‘wild allegations’ against him ‘utterly untrue’ and answered ‘exactly’ to a Twitter user who said the billionaire had fallen victim to an establishment hit piece.
Throwing down the gauntlet to his accuser, Musk continued: ‘But 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 also denied responding to Insider’s request for a comment on its exclusive – although the publication says this is false, and pointed to a quote it insists Musk supplied for the original piece pre-publication.
He said: ‘No, it was clear that their only goal was a hit price to interfere with the Twitter acquisition. The story was written before they even talked to me.’
Musk has also since joked about the scandal on Twitter, writing: ‘Finally, we get to use Elongate as scandal name. It’s kinda perfect.
Musk has lashed out at an Insider report in which he’s accused of exposing himself and propositioning a flight attendant in 2016
The bombshell report alleged that Musk’s SpaceX paid $250,000 in severance to one of the company’s corporate flight attendants after she filed a formal complaint against the tech mogul claiming he exposed himself to her and propositioned her for sex.
The flight attendant, who has not been named, also alleged the billionaire rubbed her leg and offered her gifts – including a horse – in exchange for an erotic massage.
The story was based on declaration papers signed by a friend of the flight attendant as part of the complaint against SpaceX. Other records and correspondence were also turned over by the friend.
Musk tweeted Thursday night: ‘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.’
He then finally tweeted a denial in response to Cucumber Capital CEO Tara Bull: ‘And, for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue.’
He also attacked the credibility of the alleged victim’s friend, tweeting that she ‘is a far left activist/actress in LA with a major political axe to grind.’
Musk, the wealthiest man on earth, said there is ‘a lot more to this story’ – which he called a ‘politically motivated hit piece’.