by Tom Hals
WILmington, Del (Reuters) – Billionaire Elon Musk’s penchant for swearing during his oath interrogation will be tested again this week, when lawyers will… Twitter Inc (NYSE:) is expected to interview the CEO of Tesla (NASDAQ:: Inc) regarding his abrupt decision in July to abandon his $44 billion deal for the social media company.
Testifying in previous legal battles, the world’s richest person has called opposing lawyers “reprehensible,” questioned their happiness and accused them of “blackmail.” One attorney asked if he was working in an emergency because the attorney’s client was in default on child support payments.
“So you’re probably in an emergency situation or you’re taking this kid’s money. What is it?” Musk asked for a whistleblower attorney in a case against Tesla, according to a 2020 filing.
The high stakes Twitter interview is closed to the public. A lawsuit said last week that Musk’s filing was scheduled to begin on Monday and run through Wednesday, if necessary. Sources familiar with the statement said that Musk was not questioned on Monday, did not know what day it would start, and did not give a reason for the delay.
James Morch, one of the company’s attorneys who was not involved in the court battle, said Musk’s lawyers would want to keep him focused on answering questions, but that this could prove challenging with such an intelligent, opinionated witness.
“I’m going to compare it to trying to catch a tiger by the tail,” Morsch said.
The text showed that in a 2019 report in a lawsuit over Tesla’s acquisition of solar panel maker SolarCity, Musk refused five times to answer one of the initial questions due to the way it was phrased.
“We can stare at each other until you paraphrase,” Musk told opposition attorney Randall Barron.
“I think we’ll cancel that deposit,” Barron replied. Barron suggested he would seek a judge’s order directing Musk to answer questions, which seemed to move things along.
Twitter declined to comment, and Musk’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitter’s lawyers are expected to use the interview in an attempt to show that Musk abandoned the deal because of plunging financial markets and not because the company misled him about the true number of users or hid security vulnerabilities, he claimed.
Musk wants a judge to let him get away without penalty, while Twitter wants an order to force him to buy the company for $54.20 per share. Twitter stock closed 0.4% higher at $41.58 on Friday.
A five-day trial is scheduled to begin October 17 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Dozens of affidavits have been scheduled in the case, including Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, with each side questioning witnesses and gathering evidence to prove their case.
Agrawal was scheduled to answer questions from Musk’s attorney at a San Francisco law firm beginning at 9 a.m. local time Monday, according to the court filing, though sources said the filing was also delayed and gave no reason.
Twitter founder and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was due to be fired last week.
What is the whole truth?
Musk has occasionally shown in his nominations the charm and wit he posts on Twitter, building a cult-like following.
The atmosphere of sedimentation on Twitter can be especially risky. Its legal team includes Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and lead attorney in the case, Bill Savitt, who initially represented Musk and Tesla in the SolarCity deal, though not during discovery and filing in litigation.
Savit did not respond to a request for comment.
Twitter also represents Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
Consistent in the three testimonies reviewed by Reuters is Musk’s hatred of lawyers representing the other side, whom he accuses of “cheating” and pursuing him solely for the sake of money.
“I heard yesterday that 3% of the US economy is legal services. This is one of the saddest facts I’ve heard in a long time,” Musk told Baron, a lawyer at the Solar City filing.
The filing began litigation with a Tesla whistleblower, Martin Tripp, who accused the company of wasting raw materials, by asking Musk if he understood the oath he made to testify truthfully.
“This sounds like some kind of legal semantic argument. – What is the whole truth of something?” Musk asked, according to the transcript. “You say, ‘Is this a tree?'” What type of tree is this? Is it a tree with a lot of leaves? Or is it—if you say that something is a tree is the whole truth? No, of course not.
Trip Musk’s attorney reminded the judge that he would personally supervise the filing if questions were not answered correctly.
“Do you intend to obey the judge’s directions there?” asked attorney William Fischbach.
Of course, Musk said.