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Donald Trump says he ‘helped’ Elon Musk as president and confirms recent meeting

Trump spoke Monday in an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box."
A side by side of Elon Musk and Donald Trump.
Elon Musk and Donald Trump.Bloomberg; Getty Images file

Former President Donald Trump on Monday continued his courtship with tech billionaire Elon Musk, saying during a CNBC interview that he helped Musk in unspecified ways when he was in the White House.

Trump was asked about Musk during a call-in appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” morning show. Co-host Joe Kernen mentioned a New York Times report published last week that said Trump had recently met with Musk and a few wealthy Republican donors as he was looking for money to pay for his campaign.

“I did,” Trump responded, referring to the meeting. 

Kernen followed up: “What did Elon Musk tell you? You think you eventually get his support in some way, whether it’s just verbal or monetary?” 

Trump said he didn’t know and then referred to unspecified help that he said he had given Musk. 

“Look, I’ve been friendly with him over the years. I’ve helped him when I was president. I helped him. I’ve liked him,” Trump said. 

It’s not clear what help Trump was referring to. Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has for years benefited from government assistance to his companies, including regulatory credits for Tesla, tax credits for Tesla customers and rocket-service contracts for SpaceX. 

The courting of Musk has continued in other ways. Trump and his allies want Musk to speak at the Republican convention in July, CNBC reported last week. 

Musk has not said which candidate he’ll support for president. He told CNBC last year that he voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, though he also told biographer Walter Isaacson that he didn’t vote at all in the general election that year. 

Musk said last year he wouldn’t vote for Biden over Trump in 2024, and he has lobbed insults at Biden, at one point calling him a “damp [sock emoji] puppet in human form.”

Last week, after news broke about Musk’s meeting with Trump, Musk posted on X that he was not donating money to either presidential candidate. 

The outcome of the presidential race could have a major impact on Musk’s businesses. Musk is engaged in at least 11 regulatory or legal fights with the Biden administration or independent federal agencies, and regulatory experts say a second Trump term could mean those fights get resolved in ways that are more favorable to Musk.

Trump said on CNBC that he does have one difference with Musk. 

“We obviously have opposing views on a minor subject called electric cars,” he said. Trump has said that he opposes federal rules designed to ramp up electric vehicle production. 

Trump spoke about Musk for less than 15 seconds. He then changed the subject and spoke for three minutes straight without mentioning Musk again, covering topics such as electric cars, his polling numbers in Michigan, the pre-pandemic economy and Alaska oil drilling. 

Biden hasn’t shown an eagerness to meet with or discuss Musk. He did not invite Musk to a White House summit on electric vehicles in 2021 — an omission that Musk has since noted frequently — and he did not meet with Musk when the billionaire visited the White House in September, according to the Biden administration. 

Elsewhere in the Monday interview, Trump spoke about the possibility of cutting spending on Social Security and Medicare and about the idea of banning TikTok