US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he agrees with Elon Musk that Tesla should be allowed to reopen its California factory

FILE - In this April 21, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump listens as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Some of Trump’s top economic advisers emphasized on Sunday, May 10, the importance of states getting more businesses and offices open. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Associated Press

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has sided with Elon Musk as Tesla tussles with local regulators that have forced the closure of its main car factory.

"I agree with Elon Musk," Mnuchin said on CNBC Monday morning. "He's one of the biggest employers and manufacturers in California, and California should prioritize doing whatever they need to do to solve those health issues so that he can open quickly and safely."

Over the weekend, Musk continued his tirade against local shutdown orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus that have caused Tesla significant production downtime. Its factory in Fremont, in Alameda County, has been shuttered since March 23.

The company filed a lawsuit against county officials on Saturday, arguing it should be considered an essential business under Gov. Gavin Newsom's guidelines. In response, the county said it has been engaged in what it calls a "collaborative, good-faith effort to develop and implement a safety plan that allows for reopening" of the factory.

In tweets leading up to the lawsuit, Musk said Tesla "will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependent on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA."

That's a charge Mnuchin seemed to agree with.

"They're going to find that if he's threatened he's going to move his production to a different state," he said.

Musk told investors in April that the closure of its Fremont factory should be viewed as a "serious risk" to the company's business.

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