Musk's 'verbal' approval for hyperloop may have been miscommunication

'As I said to Elon after, I think what you heard was 'verbal government excitement.''

Remember back in July, when Elon Musk took to Twitter (what else?) to announce he'd received "verbal govt approval" for his Boring Co. to dig an underground hyperloop tunnel between New York and Washington D.C., with stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore?

In typical Musk fashion, the business mogul never revealed who exactly granted him such quick approval for what presumably would be a pretty complicated and time-consuming series of permit applications, site-plan reviews and other regulatory hurdles. Now, Recode writes the "approval" may have come from one of President Trump's top technology advisors — but it wasn't exactly an official OK.

"I think that I was the culprit," Reed Cordish, the tech advisor to the president, told Recode. "As I said to Elon after, I think what you heard was 'verbal government excitement.'"

Cornish is a partner in the Baltimore-based development firm Cordish Cos. He's a member of the president's Office of American Innovation, which aims to borrow private-sector ideas for some of the federal government's most stubborn problems, and he's considered one of the wealthiest members of the president's inner circle. He reports to senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, a longtime friend and Trump's son-in-law.

As such, he has a front-row seat to the president's plans for upgrading U.S. transportation infrastructure, and he divulged some of it to Recode. They include offering $200 billion in new government funds, plus a push to lessen government regulation so that projects like the hyperloop and Musk's Boring Co. can move forward.

Cornish told Recode he's been talking to Musk "every day" about the Boring Co. "In essence, we've had the same technology for tunneling, it hasn't changed in the last 50 years," he said. "And what Elon has done is he's challenged his best engineers to reimagine that approach."

Musk, of course, famously quit his position as a White House advisor earlier this year over Trump's position on climate change and pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Accord. But it appears he still maintains at least one line of influence with the commander-in-chief.

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