Fact Check

Are 'Prominent Attorneys' Investigating if Elon Musk Lied on Application for US Citizenship?

"OK," one prominent attorney tweeted. "I was trolling when I tweeted that."

Published May 25, 2023

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Prominent attorneys are investigating whether Twitter owner Elon Musk lied on his application for U.S. citizenship.

On May 24, 2023, a tweet from a pro-Democratic account with over 100,000 followers and a history of misinformation claimed that a "breaking" news story suggested "prominent lawyers" were working to see if Elon Musk had lied on his application for U.S. citizenship:

The fact that @ericareport posted this same tweet in December 2022 is a significant blow to the assertion that the May 2023 tweet contained "breaking" information. The fact that the text appearing in that account's tweet appears to have been cut-and-pasted from earlier identical tweets and a Reddit thread on the topic is a further blow.

As noted in a December 2022 Newsweek fact check of this claim, the language in the @ericareports tweet is suspiciously similar to an October 2022 tweet from "lawyer, comedian, and journalist" Dean Obeidallah: 

As a lawyer I'm going to do research to see if [Elon Musk]  in any way lied on his application for US citizenship. [...]. If he lied anywhere on application we will move to strip him of US citizenship.

Several publications including Daily Mail, Fox News, and Western Journal took the assertion seriously. A few hours later, however, Obeidallah — who could, perhaps, be considered a "prominent attorney" — tweeted that "It was never about the document. It was only about the trolling."

Newsweek "found no independently verifiable information" supporting the allegation that Musk was being investigated over immigration issues, adding that "the 'prominent attorneys' in question were not identified in any of the posts." 

Snopes had not identified any information that could aid in that verification, at the time of this reporting. Unverified or unverifiable rumors about his U.S. citizenship have long been leveled against Musk, as Snopes has previously reported.

Because, however, this claim originates from an unsourced copypasta stemming from an assertion made in a tweet described as a "troll," we rate this claim as "Originated as Satire." 


DaFunkJunkie. "Elon Musk Could Be Stripped of His of U.S. Citizenship and Deported Back to Africa." R/WhitePeopleTwitter, 13 Dec. 2022, www.reddit.com/r/WhitePeopleTwitter/comments/zl9zsq/elon_musk_could_be_stripped_of_his_of_us/.

@DeanObeidallah. "It Won't Be Released without His Consent..." Twitter, 31 Oct. 2022, https://twitter.com/DeanObeidallah/status/1587108915740819456.

Hall, Alexander. "Frequent MSNBC Guest Ripped for Plotting to Strip Elon Musk of US Citizenship: 'Stupid and Incompetent.'" FOXBusiness, 31 Oct. 2022, https://www.foxbusiness.com/media/frequent-msnbc-guest-ripped-plotting-strip-elon-musk-us-citizenship-stupid-incompetent.

Pennock, Lewis. "Woke MSNBC Guest Slammed for Vow to Investigate Musk's US Citizenship." Mail Online, 1 Nov. 2022, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11377341/Woke-MSNBC-guest-slammed-vow-investigate-Elon-Musks-citizenship.html.

Saunders, Joe. "Unhinged MSNBC Contributor Vows to Investigate Elon Musk, Strip Him of US Citizenship If Possible." The Western Journal, 1 Nov. 2022, https://www.westernjournal.com/unhinged-msnbc-contributor-vows-investigate-elon-musk-strip-us-citizenship-possible/.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.