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Elon Musk reveals he’s on the fence about supporting a second Trump presidency as he pledges up to $25M for a super PAC

June 21, 2022, 12:49 PM UTC

Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, remains on the fence about supporting a potential bid by Donald Trump to reclaim the presidency.

Even as the Jan. 6 committee continues to hear testimony about the real estate mogul’s attempt to block election certification of then–President-elect Joe Biden, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX left the door wide open in comments made on Tuesday. 

“I think I’m undecided at this point on that,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait during the Qatar Economic Forum. 

Musk, who ridiculed Biden as a “damp sock puppet in human form,” broke with the Democrats in May after they became the “party of division and hate” in his words.

Instead, he said on Tuesday, he was planning to spend possibly $20 million to $25 million on a new super PAC he’d previously teased as aimed at supporting the campaigns of centrist candidates.

Musk, whose foray into politics follows those of tech angel investor and Republican donor Peter Thiel, has not ruled out potentially contributing to the election bids of centrist Democrats.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Musk reportedly was encouraged to acquire Twitter for $44 billion by Thiel. Musk’s fellow cofounder of PayPal was the first person in Silicon Valley to back Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

Since launching the offer, Musk has pushed to reinstate Trump’s Twitter privileges, permanently withdrawn after inciting his followers to violence during the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Anti-China policies no threat to Tesla

Alongside possibly funding a Trump campaign, the potential $25 million in Musk’s super PAC money could be spent on backing Ron DeSantis. On Tuesday, Musk reaffirmed earlier comments that he was leaning toward the Florida governor as a presidential candidate.

Speaking in the conservative Gulf monarchy of Qatar, Micklethwait did not ask whether Musk supported DeSantis’s campaign against the LGBTQ community, or his culture war conflict with Disney over his “Don’t say gay” rule.

It’s a sensitive issue in Texas as well, where Musk recently voted for Republican candidate Mayra Flores—a known sympathizer of the QAnon movement that supports Trump—to represent the district where his SpaceX company is headquartered.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed off on a party platform that officially branded homosexuality an “abnormal lifestyle choice” ahead of the November gubernatorial election showdown with Democratic rival Beto O’Rourke.

But Micklethwait did ask whether the centibillionaire was concerned the anti-China policies of either a Trump- or DeSantis-led White House would endanger his business ties with the regime in Beijing.

“No, I don’t think so,” he replied, without elaborating further. 

Headcount grew too fast

Giga Shanghai is believed by many analysts to be the pearl in Tesla’s crown, the most productive, efficient, and profitable factory, churning out Model 3 and Model Y cars with quality superior to the Fremont facility in California. 

Reuters had reported in February that Tesla had plans to build a second plant in another district of Shanghai that could see full annual production capacity in Shanghai eventually reach 2 million vehicles. The current site built over 70,000 vehicles in December, giving it an annual capacity of close to 900,000 vehicles, if not more. 

It’s unclear whether the plans, which were never officially confirmed, could have changed after a draconian citywide lockdown that hobbled Tesla’s business during most of April and May.

Separately, Musk clarified earlier comments over his controversial planned layoffs for largely white-collar staff.

On Tuesday, he predicted headcount a year from now would be higher for both hourly and salaried positions. But in the short term, Tesla would cut a tenth of its salaried staff over the next three months or so. 

“We grew a little too fast in some areas,” he explained. “We’re about two-thirds hourly and one-third salary, so I guess technically a 10% reduction in salaried workforce is only roughly [equivalent to] a 3% to 3.5% reduction in total headcount.”

pending claim launched by U.S. employees alleging he failed to observe labor laws was nothing more in Musk’s eye than a “small lawsuit of minor consequence”; he dismissed it as “trivial” and said it resorted to a legal argument that “has no standing.” 

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