Despite some public backlash, Elon Musk has decided to stay on Donald Trump’s business advisory council. The SpaceX founder took to Twitter Saturday to explain his actions.
Musk argued that his spot on the business council allowed him to influence Trump in beneficial ways. For example, he stated, because of a request he made, the first topic of the meeting was the immigration restriction; previously it was not to be discussed at all. In addition, he mentioned he was able to raise the topic of climate change.
A day before the meeting, Musk also clarified that his participation in the council did not equal his endorsement of all of Trump’s actions. He believed he could influence the president’s policy for the better by communicating with him.
On Sunday, Musk added that more moderates advising Trump was not a bad thing. He stated on Twitter “How could having only extremists advise him possibly be good?”
Some, however, are more skeptical of Elon Musk’s involvement. Journalist Russell Brandom argues that the CEO may only be currying Donald Trump’s favor to further, or at least maintain, his own business interests. Brandom points out Musk’s numerous tax credits and contracts with the federal government and how an administration unfavorable to him might seriously damage his businesses. Furthermore, Trump’s advocacy of the Carrier deal might suggest a presidency more inclined to hand out special favors.
The council meeting Friday included many business titans in addition to Musk, including Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors; Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric; Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM; and Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart Stores, reports Business Insider. The meeting had 17 total company executives and also included VP Mike Pence, Steve Bannon, and others in Trump’s cabinet.
Notably absent was Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney, who had a scheduling conflict according to Recode, as well as Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who received the brunt of the backlash against CEOs for his initial choice to attend the meeting. Like Elon Musk, he explained that he was doing it not because he agreed with the president’s immigration ban, but for the opposite reasons. Nevertheless, many consumers were still unhappy with Uber and its CEO. Eventually, Kalanick chose to drop from the council due to the confusion.
Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from seven countries in the Middle East has been the subject of much criticism and outrage in the past two weeks. Airports were clogged the night the executive order was signed due to confusion regarding the status of Green Card holders. Since then, a number of judges have ruled against the order or parts of it, and protesters have continued to fight for its removal.
By Brett Chandrasekhar