Elon Musk made a comparison between Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, and Adolf Hitler in an apparent tweet supporting truckers protesting the vaccine mandates. This immediately set off a Twitter storm.
Musk sent the tweet just before midnight in California on Wednesday. He had deleted it by noon on Thursday without explanation. Musk did not respond to our request for comment.
Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, tweeted his support for Canadian truckers in January. They have closed down roads and bridges across Canada, drawing international attention on their opposition to Trudeau’s health policies.
Musk responded to a tweet that described how Trudeau’s government ordered banks to cut funding for protesters. He posted a meme featuring a photo Hitler with the words “Stop Comparing Me to Justin Trudeau” above his head and “I Had a Budget” below.
Musk is one of the most popular Twitter users with 74 million followers. This is often seen by Tesla as a marketing win.
Musk is well-known for his edgy humor, blunt assessments, and sharp humor. However, Trudeau’s comparison to the Nazi leader, who was responsible the genocide and subsequent start of World War II, was too extreme for many Twitter users.
“@elonmusk makes a disgusting comparison between Trudeau and Hitler. This kind of stuff is unacceptable. “You just look stupid,” tweeted ElliotMalin. The notice “This tweet was deleted by the author” was posted at noon on Thursday.
Musk’s tweet was responded to by the American Jewish Committee with an urgent apology.
Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Industry Minister, addressed Musk via Twitter and said that his comments were “quite frankly disturbing.”
His tweet received more than 35,000 views, over 9,000 retweets, and positive responses. One of them was from @maroongolf17 who said “My next car must be a #tesla right now.”
Claim for persecution
Musk’s Hitler tweet was making rounds. He was also accusing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of harassing him and Tesla. The SEC was conducting an “endless” and unrelenting investigation into his tweets. This was he claimed was to punish Musk for being a vocal critic of the government.
The accusation was made in a letter addressed to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, Manhattan. Nathan presided over an 2018 SEC settlement arising from Musk’s tweet regarding a possible buyout of Tesla.
Alex Spiro wrote that Tesla and Mr. Musk are seeking a course correction. “Enough is enough.”
The SEC declined Comment
Musk’s fight with regulators escalates as they examine Musk’s social media posts and Tesla’s treatment of workers including allegations of discrimination. Thursday’s letter is sent to Musk.
This was in response to Tesla’s February 7th disclosure that it had received a subpoena form the SEC regarding its compliance with the 2018 settlement.
Musk was sued by the SEC in August 2018, after he claimed that he had “funding secured”, to possibly take his electric car business private for $420 per share. Musk was far from being able to buy out the company.
Tesla and Musk reached a settlement by agreeing each to pay $20 million in civil penalties and to allow Tesla lawyers to review some of Musk’s communications, including tweets that could have an impact on Tesla’s stock price. Musk also resigned his chairmanship of Tesla.
Ten days after Musk surveyed his Twitter followers to determine whether he should sell 10%, the latest subpoena was issued Nov. 16. This triggered a selloff.
A chilling speech
Spiro wrote Thursday that the SEC had ignored its promise to shareholders to pay the $40 million in fines and instead “dedicated its formidable resources to endless, unverbunde investigations” into Musk, Tesla, and other subjects.
“Worst of them all, the SEC seems aiming Mr. Musk at Tesla for unrelenting investigations largely because Mr. Musk continues to be an outspoken critic to the government; The SEC’s outsized attempts seem calculated to chill him exercise of First Amendment rights,” Spiro wrote.
Nathan was asked by Spiro to set up a conference to discover why the SEC “issuing subpoenas unilaterally without court approval” and why the money isn’t being distributed.
If Musk is found to have violated the settlement agreement, the SEC could ask Nathan for a reopening of the case or new charges.
Eight days after California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Tesla for racial discrimination allegations made by Black workers at its Fremont, California plant, the letter was filed.
Tesla called the lawsuit misguided. It also wants to reduce or cancel a $137 million jury award that was given to a Black ex-lift operator, for making him work in a hostile environment at Fremont.
Separately, on Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a formal probe into 416,000 Tesla Model 3 & Model Y vehicles. This was in response to complaints about sudden braking related to its Autopilot system.
Tesla has issued 10 recalls in October, some of which were forced by NHTSA.
Tesla shares fell 0.7% to $916.91 in morning trading
SEC v Musk, U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, No. 18-08865 and SEC Inc v Tesla Inc, both in the same court. 18-08947.