Elon Musk will remain on two of President Trump's advisory councils because "engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good," he tweeted Thursday, hours after Uber's chief executive Travis Kalanick quit a White House advisory group.
"Advisory councils simply provide advice and attending does not mean that I agree with actions by the Administration," Musk said Thursday on Twitter, one day ahead of the first meeting of an economic advisory group he sits on.
The tweet reaffirms the Tesla CEO's belief that he can "serve the greater good" by sitting on the council. That's a different approach than that of Kalanick, who was set to participate in the same economic advisory group but dropped out a few hours earlier after backlash from customers and Uber employees. Kalanick said in a memo to staff announcing his departure from the group that he did not intend for the decision to join the group to serve as an endorsement of Trump or his agenda, but it had been "misinterpreted" as such.
This past weekend, Trump's executive order that barred refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US fueled protests at airports around the country and led major tech companies, from Facebook to Airbnb, to issue statements saying they did not support the travel ban.
Musk rebutted the idea that joining the advisory group was an endorsement in his tweet, and said he would object to Trump's controversial immigration ban in the meeting.
Musk has fielded some criticism over his decision to sit on the economic advisory group and another manufacturing-focused council under Trump's administration. At least a handful of customers canceled their Tesla Model 3 orders over Musk's relationship with Trump, BuzzFeed News reported. But the level of public backlash against Musk hasn't compared to the outrage directed at Kalanick and Uber; after Uber appeared to undercut a strike by taxi workers this weekend, #DeleteUber went viral, and organizers started scheduling protests at Uber headquarters around the country. The New York Times reported Thursday that as many as 200,000 customers deleted their Uber accounts in response.
At a protest Thursday evening at Uber HQ in San Francisco that continued despite Kalanick's announcement that he wouldn't advise Trump, speakers repeatedly brought up Musk and suggested that activists should focus on him next.
Priya Anand is a tech and transportation reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Priya Anand at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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