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How Tesla, Nikola, & Donald Trump are connected

Yahoo Finance's Andy Serwer joins The First Trade to highlight the link between President Donald Trump, Tesla, and Nikola.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: With the first presidential debate just a day away, we thought it was time to play a little political trivia. So how is President Trump connected to electric car makers, Tesla and Nikola? Let's bring in Yahoo Finance's editor in chief, Andy Serwer, who has the answer to that.

Hey, Andy. Good morning. I saw your story on our website about this over the weekend. So connect the dots for our audience. What do all three have in common?

ANDY SERWER: Well, first of all, let's start off, Alexis, specifically with Tesla and Donald Trump. And go back to the 1940s. The inventor, Nikola Tesla, died in 1943. The FBI was called in to vet his inventions to make sure there was nothing dangerous there that could fall into enemy hands, and they call a MIT electrical engineering professor, a very esteemed one, named John Trump. Now it turns out that that John Trump is in fact the uncle of the President of the United States.

So an interesting thing there, and by the way, he found out that Tesla's inventions, which included a purported death ray, were not necessarily dangerous to society. But then if you flash forward to today, you've got Tesla, the automaker, named after this inventor, Nikola Tesla, and in a way, Elon Musk is the intellectual descendant of Nikola Tesla. A futurist, a polymath, and someone with a million inventions at his-- in his mind who sometimes emulates the president, Alexis, with Twitter, but sometimes spars with him about, say, emission standards and Chinese tariffs. So very interesting connection there. And there's more, of course, too.

BRIAN SOZZI: Andy, so I was reading your story over the weekend, and I-- and I left with the sense, you know what? Tesla's the real deal. Nikola, not proving that it could bring hydrogen to market. But Tesla, two years ago, who would have thought we would be in this position right now that Tesla would have this type of market cap that would be pushing out cars that like it is?

ANDY SERWER: Yeah, over $300 billion in market cap. More than GM, Ford, and Toyota combined with billions more to spare. And it's interesting, again, getting back to these connections, Nikola Tesla, of course, Tesla named after his last name, Nikola named after his first name. And you talk about Nikola and the problems they're having.

A lot of it has to do with the credibility of the founder and former CEO, Trevor Milton, who stepped down last Sunday a week from yesterday, before yesterday. And a lot of it has to do with statements that he made, Brian, right? In other words, we promise to do this. We're going to do this.

Now Musk has done the same things, but he's delivered, not always, and critics point out to, well, you didn't do this, you didn't do that. On the other hand, there are a million Teslas on the road today, and there's zero Nikola trucks. Not saying that Nikola will never do it, but they have a way-- a ways to go before they have that credibility.

And then if you look at promises and making claims, again, doesn't that tie back to the president because the president's done an awful lot of that too. Some people say it's just hyperbole. Some people say he goes too far. So that's sort of the world that we're living in right now, and it's sort of-- it's interesting to see the connection there as well.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, interesting stuff there, Andy. Thanks for bringing it to us.