How Donald Trump and Elon Musk's Relationship Soured

Donald Trump once called Elon Musk "one of our great geniuses," comparing him to inventor Thomas Edison.

But the former president's relationship with the Tesla CEO appears to have soured.

At his rally in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, Trump branded the billionaire "another bulls***" artist," saying Musk had claimed that he voted for him in the 2016 election.

Last month, Musk tweeted that his vote for Mayra Flores, who won a Texas special election, was the "first time I ever voted Republican." And in remarks during a tech summit in May, Musk said he has voted "overwhelmingly for Democrats" in the past and "might never have voted for a Republican."

Trump recalled those comments during his rally on Saturday.

"You know, he said the other day 'Oh, I've never voted for a Republican,'" Trump said. "I said, 'I didn't know that.' He told me he voted for me. So he's another bulls**t artist."

Trump also commented on reports that Musk would no longer be buying Twitter, after previously pledging to reverse Trump's ban from the social media platform once he owned it.

"He's not going to be buying it," Trump said. "Although he might later. Who the hell knows what's going to happen? He's got a pretty rotten contract."

Musk may have fallen afoul of the former president after indicating that he would back Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2024 election.

Musk recently said he was "undecided" about whether to back Trump or DeSantis in 2024, but said on Twitter that he was leaning towards DeSantis.

Neither Trump not DeSantis have confirmed they will run for president in 2024, but the Florida governor is seen by some as the only candidate who could block Trump's path to the Republican nomination.

Donald Trump and Elon Musk
Trump advisor Steve Bannon (L) watches as US President Donald Trump greets Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, before a policy and strategy forum with executives in the State Dining Room of the White House February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

DeSantis has not confirmed if he will run while Trump has been hinting that he will run for a second term, he has yet to announce his candidacy.

The former president has reportedly told confidants that he may launch his presidential campaign in Florida specifically to "stick it" to DeSantis, according to Rolling Stone.

A recent New Yorker article reported that tension between the pair had "hardened into resentment" as DenSantis's popularity grew. And earlier this year, Trump branded DeSantis "gutless" for refusing to disclose whether he had received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

Trump looking ahead to 2024 may have played a role in why he targeted Musk at Saturday's rally.

Donald Trump and Elon Musk's relationship
Donald Trump and Elon Musk's relationship appears to have rapidly deteriorated. Getty

Musk had said ahead of the 2016 election that he did not believe Trump was the "right guy" to lead the U.S.

But he later served on Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum as one of a number of CEOs advising the president on the economy. He left in protest after Trump announced he was leaving the Paris climate agreement.

The pair appeared to remain on good terms despite that and Musk's public opposition to other Trump policies.

Trump had heaped praise on Musk in a January 2020 interview with Squawk Box, saying: "He's one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius. You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison and we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb and the wheel and all of these things. And he's one of our very smart people and we want to cherish those people."

Musk, in turn, thanked Trump several months later for his support of controversial plans to open Tesla's car factory in California in violation of restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.