Elon Musk only noted very briefly that there had been “progress” on the matter of the immigration order made during his meeting with Donald Trump’s economics advisory council on Friday, but on Saturday the Tesla CEO shared a bit more about what happened at the event.
Musk said that he specifically requested inclusion of discussion of the travel ban at the closed meeting, as the issue had not been included on the agenda originally. In fact, the Tesla CEO said that because of his intervention, it became the “first and foremost” topic of discussion despite not having been on the list of things for the group to talk about.
In addition to the immigration order, Musk says he also raised the issue of climate concerns, by way of explaining his continued participation in the council. The CEO said he would indeed remain a member, reaffirming a commitment to stay part of the group he made prior to the meeting, following the resignation from the council of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in response to both employee and public reaction.
One observer pointed out that a federal judge’s ruling has actually overturned the order for now, which she suggested is doing more than Musk’s chosen tactics for voicing his concern. He replied that he believes it should be “addressed on all fronts,” including via judicial, legislative and executive channels. Musk also admitted that he’s not thrilled about participating in politics, since it’s separate from his primary agenda of helping to “invent and develop technologies that improve lives.”
The natural question then is exactly why Musk insists on continuing to work with Trump’s administration when many of his customers seem to vehemently disagree with the CEO’s actions. In fact, some Model 3 pre-order customers are cancelling their reservations as a direct result of Musk’s work with the White House.
It’s hard to say how much Musk’s role in this group is actually “doing good,” as he suggests, given the closed-door nature of the assemblies. This lack of transparency could actually also be grounds for yet more legal action against Trump, in fact, since it looks very likely that it’s a violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act to not hold these advisory meetings from business leaders open to the public, though the administration denies any of its actions have contravened this order.
Based on the accounts of some other council participants, however, it does seem like climate at least has been a noteworthy part of the agenda. GM CEO and strategic and policy forum member Mary Barra provided TechCrunch with the following statement about her participation in Friday’s meeting via email from a GM spokesperson:
I’m pleased to have been part of a very constructive discussion on how we can all work together on policies that support a strong and competitive U.S. economy, create jobs and address safety and environmental issues. As we have stated, a vibrant U.S. economy that is competitive globally and that grows jobs is what we all want.
While GM has addressed the immigration order issued by Trump last week in an internal memo shared with media from the company’s HR lead John Quattrone, Barra herself has not addressed the executive measure publicly. Of the major U.S. automakers, only Ford CEO Mark Fields has made a statement regarding the order, noting on January 30 in a statement co-authored with Ford Chairman Bill Ford that they “do not support this policy or any other that goes against ours values as a company.”