There are no two rich personalities riper for a public spat than former President Donald Trump and Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, who have been slinging insults in the aftermath of claims that Musk wants to pull out of his purchase agreement with Twitter.
Driving the News
Trump lashed out at Musk during a rally in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, July, 9 night, just a day after it was revealed that Musk wanted to pull out of his deal to buy Twitter. Musk was labeled a “bullshit artist” by Trump for claiming he had never voted for a Republican before a recent special election in Texas.
In response, the Tesla CEO urged the former President to step down from the national stage to make way for a younger generation of Republicans.
Several hours later, Trump claimed on his Truth Social platform that Musk “came to the White House seeking me for aid on all of his numerous sponsored projects” during his presidency.
“Whether it’s electric automobiles that don’t last long enough, driverless cars that crash, or rocketships to nowhere, without which subsidies he’d be worthless,” he wrote.
“Elon should now concentrate on getting himself out of the Twitter situation because he could be owed $44 billion for something that is potentially worthless. There is also a lot of competition for electric vehicles!”
In his criticism, Trump also backed Twitter’s efforts to sue Musk for pulling out of the takeover.
The squabbling has been simmering beneath the surface since at least April when the twice-impeached former president could be heard privately insulting Musk — allegedly for being “sloppy” and high on drugs. (Trump appeared to be referring to a viral 2018 video of Musk smoking marijuana on Joe Rogan’s show)
Musk stated in June that he is leaning toward supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) if he decides to run for president in 2024, just one month after announcing that he could “no longer support Democrats.”
This was not always the case. In reality, their relationship appeared to be on much firmer ground less than two years ago. During an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2020, Trump praised Musk, calling him “one of our great minds.”
Trump (and then-Vice President Mike Pence) flew to Florida in May of that year to observe a SpaceX launch. (Musk is the CEO of the private rocket firm)
Musk stated in May 2022 at a Financial Times conference that “The decision to bar Donald Trump was incorrect. I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country.”
The current phase of the roller coaster
The latest sour turn in their relationship underscores a fundamental truth: Musk and Trump may be too similar to ever get along. Both consider themselves to be iconoclasts and rebels. Both thrive on making headlines and upsetting the status quo. And both are contentious figures; you either adore them or despise them.
If history is any guide, Musk and Trump will have a bumpy relationship in the next months and years as they both circle each other warily.