Elon Musk Denies Discussing Trump White House Role—As Trump Reportedly Eyes Recruiting These Billionaires – Forbes

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Topline

Billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk denied reports he’s discussed a potential White House advisory role with former President Donald Trump, following a new report that named Musk as the latest wealthy business executive on Trump’s list of potential appointees if he wins his second term.

Key Facts

Musk (who Forbes estimates is worth $211.2 billion) denied reports he and Trump have discussed appointing him to an advisory role that could center on border security or the economy, writing Thursday on X “there have not been any discussions of a role for me in a potential Trump Presidency.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported Wednesday that the discussions took place during a March meeting at billionaire Nelson Peltz’s Palm Beach home, citing anonymous sources.

The apparent overtures to Musk—who has shifted right politically in recent years and has repeatedly criticized President Joe Biden, frequently targeting his age and immigration policies—come as Trump and Musk have strengthened their relationship, with frequent phone calls and Musk and Peltz hosting gatherings with their wealthy friends and political allies to discuss how they can defeat Biden, according to the Journal.

Trump is eyeing other wealthy business executives for treasury secretary, including billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson (worth $3.5 billion according to Forbes’ calculations) and investor Scott Bessent, who co-hosted an April fundraiser for Trump, the Journal and Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with Trump’s thinking.

Trump’s advisers have floated other names for treasury secretary like Susquehanna International Group founder Jeff Yass (worth $27.6 billion), former Trump trade adviser Robert Lighthizer and former Trump Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, according to multiple reports.

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JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon (worth $2.2 billion) has also been mentioned for treasury secretary, the Wall Street Journal reported, but it’s unclear if Dimon’s politics align with Trump’s as he has described himself in the past as “barely” a Democrat and has sometimes criticized Trump, though he said earlier this year Trump was “kind of right” about some issues.

And while Trump has ruled out his former GOP primary competitor, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, as a running mate, he has told Ramaswamy he’s instead considering him for a cabinet position, including Homeland Security secretary, Bloomberg reported (last year, Forbes estimated Ramaswamy’s net worth at over $950 million).

Contra

“Just to be super clear, I am not donating money to either candidate for US President,” Musk tweeted a day after the New York Times reported on the meeting between Peltz, Musk and Trump.

What We Don’t Know

It’s unclear if many of the rumored cabinet options—like Yass, Dimon, Paulson and Musk—are actually interested in joining the Trump administration.

Chief Critic

Biden-Harris spokesperson James Singer accused Trump of “selling out America to pay his legal bills and put himself in power” in a statement Thursday in response to news that Musk could serve in a second Trump administration. The campaign also pointed to a meeting between Trump and wealthy donors earlier this month in New York where he floated tax cuts and told the group “I’m begging for your money,” the Washington Post reported. And it noted previous reports Trump sought $1 billion in donations from oil executives in April while simultaneously discussing his plans to roll back Biden environmental regulations.

Tangent

Musk and Perlmutter are reportedly working on a data-driven project to prevent voter fraud in the 2024 election, the Journal reported.

Key Background

Trump stacked his first White House with wealthy business executives, including Musk, who served in business advisory groups before resigning in 2017 when Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn served as a special adviser to Trump on regulatory reforms, prompting concerns that Icahn was making policy recommendations that could benefit him financially. Former Marvel chairman Isaac Perlmutter served in an advisory capacity at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Former Exxon chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson served a year as Trump’s secretary of state. Hedge fund investor Steven Munuchin was his treasury secretary, and Wall Street veteran Wilbur Ross was commerce secretary. Billionaire Betsy DeVos, former education secretary, was by far the wealthiest member of Trump’s cabinet.

Further Reading

Donald Trump Recently Met With Elon Musk And Wealthy Republican Donors (Forbes)

Elon Musk’s Political Shift: How The Billionaire Moved From Backing Obama To Endorsing DeSantis (Forbes)

The Definitive Net Worth Of Donald Trump’s Cabinet (Forbes)

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