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Elon Musk could become US policy adviser if Trump wins second term in White House: Report

This report comes as Musk has increasingly embraced the Republican Party and criticised Biden's policies on immigration, electric vehicles and tariffs. While he says he won't donate money to either Trump or Biden, Musk has promised to galvanise support from powerful business leaders to defeat Biden.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Washington Published on: May 30, 2024 10:15 IST
Elon Musk, Donald Trump
Image Source : REUTERS Tesla CEO Elon Musk and former US President Donald Trump.

Washington: Former US President Donald Trump, who is the leading Republican contender for the November election, is considering billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk as a policy adviser if he reclaims the White House at the end of this year, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the talks. This comes as Musk in recent years has more fully embraced the Republican Party and has criticised President Joe Biden's policies on immigration, electric vehicles and tariffs.

Musk and Trump have discussed ways for the owner of social media platform X to have "formal input and influence" over economic and border security policies, according to WSJ. The report further said Musk has informed Trump about his ongoing influence campaign aimed at convincing powerful US business leaders not to support Biden, who beat Trump in the 2020 election and is seeking a second term.

Those talks, which included billionaire investor Nelson Peltz, also included discussions about funding a "data-driven project to prevent voter fraud," the outlet said, adding no further details were known. Representatives for Trump and Musk, as well as those for Biden's campaign, did not immediately respond to the report.

Trump campaign spokesperson Brian Hughes told the WSJ that only Trump will decide "what role an individual plays in his presidency." Musk, one of the world's wealthiest individuals has previously said that he will not donate money to either Trump or Biden, but will use his clout to help defeat Biden by galvanising the support of "influential allies".

Musk's criticism of Biden's policies

"Just to be super clear, I am not donating money to either candidate for US President," Musk said in a post on X in March, after he met Trump in Florida ahead of the Super Tuesday presidential primaries in 15 states. He has been very critical of Biden's policies, even accusing him of encouraging migrants to come to the United States so they can vote for Democrats, even though people without US citizenship are not eligible to vote in federal elections.

In the past, Musk has contributed to both Republicans and Democrats, much like many other business titans. He has not heavily invested in a presidential campaign, in contrast to other American billionaires, and over the years, he has divided his contributions roughly equally between Republicans and Democrats, casting himself as politically independent.

Trump, whose own personal fortune took recent hits from judgments against him in a New York civil fraud case and a separate defamation trial, is aiming to line up additional major contributors to his campaign for president. With a net worth of over $200 billion, Musk has the resources to almost single-handedly offset the huge financial advantage that Biden and his supporters are otherwise expected to wield over Trump in the 2024 general election campaign.

However, Musk's critical views on Biden's policies has hurt standing among some consumers, according to a CivicScience survey. Market intelligence firm Caliber's "consideration score" provided exclusively to Reuters for Tesla fell to 31 per cent in February, less than half its high of 70 per cent in November 2021 when it started tracking consumer interest in the brand. The survey showed 83 per cent of Americans connect Musk with Tesla.

In recent years, the billionaire courted controversy with comments and actions including his embrace of the Republican party and endorsement of anti-semitic comments on X. Musk has denied being anti-semitic. When asked by an investor during a January 2023 conference call if his political comments were hurting Tesla's brand and sales, Musk said he was "reasonably popular."

(with inputs from Reuters)

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