Evan Vucci / AP
President Trump showered Tesla CEO Elon Musk with strange and confusing praise during a CNBC interview in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
“I was worried about him, because he’s one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius,” Trump said, comparing Musk to the inventor Thomas Edison.
“He does good at rockets, too, by the way,” the president said, referring to Musk’s SpaceX business.
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President Donald Trump showered Tesla CEO Elon Musk with strange and confusing praise during a CNBC interview on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“I was worried about him, because he’s one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius,” Trump said. “You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison, and we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the lightbulb and the wheel and all of these things.”
Trump alluded to Musk and Tesla’s past problems and recent momentum in the interview. Musk was forced to step down as the electric-car maker’s chairman and pay a $20 million fine in September 2018 after tweeting that he had secured the funding to take Tesla private, and he was taken to court last December after calling a British diver a “pedo guy” on Twitter. Meanwhile, Tesla has regained momentum in recent months, sending its stock up more than 80% in the past year.
“You go back a year, and they were talking about the end of the company,” Trump said. “And now all of a sudden they’re talking about these great things.”
The president also complimented Musk on another of his companies, SpaceX. The spacecraft manufacturer is probably best known for its reusable rockets, designed to be fired into the atmosphere then safely landed back on their launchpads.
“He’s also doing the rockets, he likes rockets, and he does good at rockets, too, by the way,” Trump said. “I never saw where the engines come down with no wings, no anything, and they’re landing.”
Trump’s compliments are somewhat surprising given that Musk quit two of the president’s advisory councils in 2017 in protest of Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord. In November 2018, Musk agreed with the “Recode Decode” podcast host Kara Swisher that Trump “screwed” him.