Mnuchin says he agrees with Elon Musk and California should let Tesla make cars again

Steven Mnuchin

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin backed Tesla CEO Elon Musk, telling CNBC that California should help Tesla reopen its California plant amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Musk has threatened to pull the company out of California if it can’t resume production.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin backed Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Monday, telling CNBC that California should help the company reopen its plant there amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I agree with Elon Musk. He’s one of the biggest employers and manufacturers in California, and California should prioritize doing whatever they need to do to solve those health issues so that he can open quickly and safely,” Mnuchin said on “Squawk on the Street.”

Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant has been closed since March 23 due to shelter-in-place orders, but the company is pushing to resume production. A rush to return has been met with heavy resistance from local authorities. Musk threatened Saturday to pull Tesla out of California amid a dispute with Alameda County over the shutdown. Tesla also filed a lawsuit against the county, asking a federal court to invalidate orders by local authorities that have prevented the automaker from resuming production.

“They’re going to find that if he’s threatened he’s going to move his production to a different state,” Mnuchin said.

Scott Haggerty, supervisor for the Fremont district of Alameda County, told the New York Times on Saturday that the county and Tesla executives were working on a plan to restart the plant May 18, when several automakers in Michigan plan to reopen. But Musk pushed for an earlier date.

Tesla said its Fremont factory is critical national infrastructure and that it falls under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s essential workforce guidelines. It also released a list of safety and health protocols that it would follow while working during the pandemic.

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