Steven Mnuchin says he agrees with Elon Musk in Tesla production dispute

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin backed Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Monday, telling CNBC that California should help Tesla reopen its plant there amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“I agree with Elon Musk. 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,” Mnuchin said on “Squawk on the Street.”

Tesla’s Fremont, California plant has been closed since March 23 due to shelter-in-place orders, but the company is pushing to resume production. However, it’s been met with heavy resistance from local authorities. Musk threatened Saturday to pull Tesla out of California amid a dispute with the county over the shutdown. Tesla also filed a lawsuit against California’s Alameda county, asking a federal court to invalidate orders by local authorities that have prevented the automaker from resuming production.

“They’re going to find that if he’s threatened he’s going to move his production to a different state,” Mnuchin said. 

The automaker said its Fremont factory is critical national infrastructure and that it falls under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s essential workforce guidelines. It also released a list of safety and health protocols that it would follow while working during a pandemic.

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