Elon Musk said it’s wrong for business executives to end their ties to President Donald Trump’s business forum over objections to the White House’s temporary refugee ban.
“I believe this is doing good, so will remain on council & keep at it. Doing otherwise would be wrong,” the Tesla boss tweeted Saturday morning. Musk was presumably referring to calls for him to bow out of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.
One of Musk’s fellow tech business tycoons, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, stepped down from the president’s business advisory forum Thursday, telling his employees via email that “joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”
The president signed an executive order in January, 2017, temporarily halting refugees from seven war-torn Islamic countries. The ban is meant as a piece-meal gesture until the administration can properly review the refugee vetting process.
Musk hyped up his role in confronting Trump about the immigration ban, which the California billionaire objects to, telling his Twitter followers earlier this week that refugees “don’t deserve to be rejected.”
“At my request, the agenda for yesterday’s White House meeting went from not mentioning the travel ban to having it be first and foremost,” he tweeted Saturday. He also claimed to have brought up climate change at the Friday meeting. Musk tried crowd-sourcing potential amendments to Trump’s orders instead of condemning them outright and argued the president could be convinced to tweak it.
He received mostly negative feedback for failing to come out more directly against Trump’s ban, so Musk tried a more direct attack in later tweets. But the follow-up tweets only further enraged Tesla’s army of devotees, reminding them of Musk’s connections to Trump.
Musk is trying his level best to keep Tesla’s mostly liberal customer base happy, while at the same time kindling a relationship with Trump — who, like Musk, is intent on creating a business environment allowing CEOs to build more factories inside the U.S.
Trump’s emphasis on job creation is a good sign for the green energy revolution, Musk told investors at Tesla’s Gigafactory in January. The company currently employs about 25,000 people across the U.S., and hopes to add another 1,000 at its solar panel factory in Buffalo.
Tesla’s tax credits could also be on the chopping block if Musk doesn’t play nice with the new president.
Tesla, for its part, receives extensive government tax credits. The electric car maker recently acquired SolarCity, which was founded and directed by several members of Musk’s inner circle and is propped up primarily by billions in taxpayer dollars.The electric car maker’s tax credits are up for renewal in less than five years.
The relationship “really seemed to sneak up on people,” Adam Jonas, a Morgan Stanley lead auto analyst, told reporters after attending the Gigafactory walk-through
He added: “To the extent that the creation of high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States is a priority of the incoming administration, we believe Mr. Musk might have some interests that could be very much in alignment with those of President-elect Trump.”
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