Fans of Donald Trump’s Twitter account were disappointed again on Sunday night, after Elon Musk chose not to join Twitter’s board, dashing hopes that he would overturn the former leader’s Twitter ban.
Trump received a permanent Twitter suspension on Jan. 8, 2021, amid concerns that he was using the platform to incite violence. A year later, he remains banned, much to the consternation of supporters who hope to read new 280-character diatribes from the extremely online ex-president. So when Musk, Trump’s fellow Twitter-obsessed one-percenter, announced plans to join the company’s board this month, conservatives begged him to reverse Trump’s ban, as well as those on other suspended right-wing accounts.
But in a shocking Sunday night reversal, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced that Musk would not be joining the company’s board, after all. The announcement has left some Trump fans frustrated, or arguing that Musk’s absence was actually a win for Trump.
Musk made his move on Twitter in mid-March, when he purchased a 9.2 percent stake in the company. News of the purchase only became public last week—but in the interim, Musk posted a Twitter poll that hinted at his future involvement with the company.
“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Musk tweeted, adding that “the consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”
Later, when Musk’s ownership stake in the company and his possible seat on the Twitter board were announced, Trump fans interpreted Musk’s tweet as forecasting the ex-president’s return to Twitter.
“Now that @ElonMusk is Twitter’s largest shareholder, it’s time to lift the political censorship,” Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted. “Oh… and BRING BACK TRUMP!”
Other Republicans made similar appeals, with Fox and Friends speculating on whether Musk’s future board seat would mean Trump’s return, and others going further with calls to reinstate banned accounts en masse.
Twitter did not return a request for comment but previously told the Daily Mail that it did not plan on overturning Trump’s ban.
“Twitter is committed to impartiality in the development and enforcement of its policies and rules,” a Twitter spokesperson told the Mail after Musk’s board membership was first announced. “Our policy decisions are not determined by the Board or shareholders, and we have no plans to reverse any policy decisions.”
The company noted that board members play “an important advisory” role, but that Twitter employees handle day-to-day operational decisions.
Agrawal’s Sunday night press release makes Trump fans’ hopes even more far-fetched.
“Elon Musk has decided not to join our board,” Agrawal wrote, adding that “I believe this is for the best. We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our Board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input.”
Some conservatives are still convinced that Musk will reinstate Trump’s account.
Conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins, whose account was banned the same day as Trump’s, previously claimed on Telegram that Musk’s “stake in Twitter and appointment to the board will result in many previously banned accounts being fully restored. President Trump and myself among them.”
Trump, for his part, is free to post on other platforms like Truth Social, the Twitter-like website he owns. But he has so far remained silent on the site, which is currently experiencing launch woes, with two key executives quitting, Reuters reported last week.
After Agrawal’s announcement, Watkins and other right-wing voices adjusted their predictions, voicing hopes that Musk would buy more Twitter stock and attempt a takeover of the company. “Mark my words, this will end with FULL restoration of free speech,” Watkins wrote.
On Monday morning, Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade predicted that Musk (possibly after buying more Twitter stock) would restore Trump and other banned accounts.
“I sense one day [Musk’s] gonna walk into work—he’s gonna walk into work one day and he’s gonna say ‘I’m gonna start using my power. I bought more of it. Donald Trump is back on the line, I put all these people back on.’”