US President Trump Tells California to Let Tesla Reopen Despite COVID-19 Lockdown

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted support of CEO Tesla Elon Musk's decision to reopen his California-based facilities in defiance of local COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Brad Bergan

U.S. President Donald Trump argued for California to allow Tesla to reopen its all-electric vehicle assembly facility, in line with CEO Elon Musk's defiance against local county officials who've ordered the plant to remain closed, according to a tweet from the President.


Trump wants California to allow Tesla plant's reopening

The U.S. President Trump voiced support for Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday via his tweet, which said: "California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW. It can be done Fast & Safely!"

This comes a day after Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk's Twitter announcement that production would resume at the carmaker's only U.S. vehicle production facility, despite orders to stay closed per Alameda County, California stipulations — adding in his tweet that if anyone had to be arrested, it should be him.

UPDATE May 12, 2:30 PM EDT: Musk's gratitude, Tesla market share, Trump's motivations

Hours after Trump's tweet urging California to let Tesla's U.S. plants reopen, Musk voiced gratitude to the president in a tweet: "Thank you!"

Tesla's shares have moved up 3% to $835.27 in initial trading. The all-electric automaker sued Alameda County over the weekend over local authorities' stipulation for the plant's continued closure and did not immediately reply to Trump's tweet.

Trump is anxious for the U.S. economy to restart after widespread shutdowns amid the COVID-19 outbreak and wants Americans to return to work.

He has come to verbal blows with the state of California in the last few years regarding a series of issues, including vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, immigration, funding for high-speed rail, and several environmental points of contention. Trump himself has met Musk on numerous occasions since acquiring the office of the president.

Governor Gavin Newsom of California said on Monday he'd talked with Musk days earlier and that the Tesla CEO's concerns helped jump-start the state's conversation about reopening manufacturing last week, reports Reuters.

UPDATE May 12, 2:40 PM EDT: Alameda County, Trump have different attitudes on Tesla

Late Monday, Alameda County health officials said they knew Tesla had opened to an extent that breached so-called minimum basic operations allowed amid the COVID-19 lockdown and had reminded the all-electric automaker it was not allowed to do so without a county-approved plan.

Earlier this year, in January, Trump said of Musk to CNBC: he's "one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius," according to Reuters.

Cities and states throughout the U.S. are exploring their options in safely reopening respective economies after the COVID-19 crisis forced the closure of many businesses and caused tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs. Across the country, major automakers are starting early reopen procedures — among whom are Detroit's Big Three automakers, due to reopen most domestic plants next week.

Last weekend Musk threatened to move his Tesla plant from California to Nevada or Texas if he wasn't allowed to reopen. This ignited a rush to appease the billionaire executive by the two states — both of which have reopened their economies more quickly with Trump's support.

Tesla also has a car assembly plant in Shanghai, China, and is building a third in Berlin. Its Saturday lawsuit alleges that Alameda County (home of Tesla's U.S. plant) had violated California's constitution by not allowing manufacturers to reopen per Newsom's order.

Musk has talked of opening a second U.S. factory beyond the borders of California in the past. In Feb. 2020, he asked for comments regarding a potential facility in Texas.

This is breaking news revealing how one of the biggest players in automaker industries is reacting to measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, so be sure to return here for the latest developments.

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