President Donald Trump on Tuesday sided with billionaire Elon Musk in his fight with California officials, defending the Tesla CEO’s decision to resume production at the company’s plant in Fremont as part of his larger political battle to reopen the economy and lift coronavirus shutdown orders.
Trump has weighed in on Elon Musk’s fight with California over reopening Tesla’s factory.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
“California should let Tesla & Elon Musk open the plant, NOW,” Trump said on Twitter. “It can be done fast & safely!”
The president’s comments come a day after Tesla resumed production at its Fremont factory, despite heavy resistance and backlash from local authorities.
Musk confirmed on Monday that the plant had reopened, while also daring the local sheriff’s office to come and have him arrested.
That same day, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin backed the billionaire’s decision, telling CNBC that California should help the company make electric cars again rather than delaying it from doing so.
“I agree with Elon Musk,” Mnuchin said. “He’s one of the biggest employers and manufacturers in California, and California should prioritize doing whatever they need to do to solve those health issues so that he can open quickly and safely.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, on the other hand, said on Monday that he didn’t know that Tesla had already resumed production and defied the state’s coronavirus lockdown orders.
The governor also expressed optimism that a deal could be reached quickly, however: “I have long been a strong advocate, a supporter, early adopter of [Tesla] technology,” he said, adding that he expected the factory could open as early as next week.
Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California has been shut since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. After Alameda County decided on Friday that Tesla does not yet have a “green light” to resume production, Musk responded on Twitter that Tesla is prepared to pull out of the state entirely. The billionaire CEO said on Saturday that Tesla would “immediately” move its operations out of California. The electric car maker will move its headquarters and future operations to Texas and Nevada, Musk said, adding that “if we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future.”
He also said that in response to the decision not to allow Tesla to resume production, he is suing California’s Alameda County for “acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!” Musk personally criticized Alameda County’s interim public health officer, Dr. Erica Pan, for the decision, calling her “unelected” and “ignorant.”
In a statement on Monday afternoon, the Alameda County Sheriff and Alameda County Public Health Care Services Agency condemned Tesla’s decision to reopen: “Today, May 11, we learned that the Tesla factory in Fremont had opened beyond Minimum Basic Operations. We have notified Tesla that they can only maintain Minimum Basic Operations until we have an approved plan that can be implemented in accordance with the local public health Order.”
BIG NUMBER: 95%.
That’s how much Tesla shares have skyrocketed so far in 2020. On May 1, as part of an erratic series of comments on Twitter, Musk said that he thought Tesla’s share price was “too high.” While that caused the stock to plunge 10% that day, it has since jumped over 18%.
Musk has a net worth of $37.4 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates.