There are no two rich narcissists better poised for a public feud than former President Donald Trump and Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, who have been trading barbs following reports that Musk wants to back out of his purchase agreement with Twitter.
The latest blow came on Tuesday, when Trump jabbed at Musk’s “driverless cars that crash” and “rocketships to nowhere” in recounting how Musk came to the White House to ask for help with subsidies for his business ventures. “I could have said, ‘drop to your knees and beg,’ and he would have done it…,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
Trump is currently posting about Elon Musk over on Truth Social. pic.twitter.com/bPGbvWZVQP
— Tom Dreisbach (@TomDreisbach) July 12, 2022
But according to multiple sources who spoke to Trump about Musk earlier this year, the catty feud has been gurgling beneath the surface since at least April, when the twice-impeached former president could occasionally be heard privately mocking Musk — including for being “sloppy” and on drugs. (Trump seemed to be referring to a viral 2018 clip of Musk appearing to smoke pot on Joe Rogan’s show.)
Then in mid-May, Trump posted a statement to his Truth Social account, blaring: “There is no way Elon Musk is going to buy Twitter at such a ridiculous price, especially since realizing it is a company largely based on BOTS of Spam Accounts. Fake anyone?”
Relations between the Trump and Musk fiefdoms deteriorated further after the former president first caught wind last month that Musk had said that he was “leaning” towards backing Ron DeSantis — whom Trump views as his top rival for control of the GOP’s future, and whom he semi-regularly ridicules as a boring and ungrateful snake — for president in 2024. According to one source who talked to Trump about this weeks ago, the former president simply said Musk “didn’t know what he was talking about.”
Another source who spoke to Trump about Musk’s pseudo-endorsement of the Florida governor recalled Trump saying of the pro-DeSantis Musk: “What an idiot!”
Trump unleashed on Musk during a rally in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday night, a day after it was reported that Musk wants to back out of his deal to acquire Twitter. Trump called Musk a “bullshit artist” for saying that his vote for Mayra Flores in a South Texas special congressional election last month marked the first time he voted for a Republican.
“Elon, Elon, is not going to buy Twitter,” Trump said on Saturday. “He’s got himself a mess. He said the other day, ‘Oh, I’ve never voted for a Republican.’ I said, ‘I didn’t know that. He told me he voted for me.’”
Musk then responded to Breitbart’s tweet of Trump’s statement by saying that he doesn’t “hate the man,” but that “it’s time for Trump to hang up his hat & sail into the sunset,” and asking democrats to “call off the attack.”
I don’t hate the man, but it’s time for Trump to hang up his hat & sail into the sunset.
Dems should also call off the attack – don’t make it so that Trump’s only way to survive is to regain the Presidency.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 12, 2022
In a reply to another user, Musk reiterated his endorsement of Ron DeSantis for the 2024 nomination, saying DeSantis “doesn’t even need to campaign” if Biden runs for reelection.
Trump would be 82 at end of term, which is too old to be chief executive of anything, let alone the United States of America.
If DeSantis runs against Biden in 2024, then DeSantis will easily win – he doesn’t even need to campaign.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 12, 2022
Trump’s Truth Social haymaker on Tuesday night comes after Musk had publicly aligned himself with right-wing reactionaries and Trump allies looking to influence his potential takeover of Twitter. He even signaled in May that he would allow President Trump and others banned from the platform to rejoin the platform.
The billionaire has been attempting to market his rightward political shift as one grounded in concern for free speech, but his vehement opposition to labor rights and unionization efforts within his companies could also be at play, as could scrutiny from the left over the ease with which American billionaires dodge their financial obligations to the public.
Trump seems to be under the impression that Musk had always been a loyal follower up until he decided to throw his support behind DeSantis, but this isn’t exactly true. “I feel a bit stronger that he is not the right guy,” Musk told CNBC days before the 2016 election. “He doesn’t seem to have the sort of character that reflects well on the United States.”