Judge Tells Elon Musk Off for Holding Back Texts About Twitter

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  • Elon Musk is engaged in a legal fight with Twitter over his attempt to abandon a $44 billion deal to buy the company.
  • The judge in the case accused Musk of withholding relevant text messages during legal discovery.
  • She said Twitter can now obtain Musk’s phone records to see when he sent texts.

Elon Musk’s legal fight with Twitter just got dealt another setback.

Musk agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion in April, but announced in July he intended to walk away from the deal. Twitter sued Musk in an effort to force him to buy the company at the agreed price.

Judge Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick chastised Musk in an opinion from Wednesday for not handing over all the relevant texts that were requested during Twitter’s legal discovery.

“Third parties produced text messages with Musk that Musk himself did not produce, and Musk’s own production of text messages revealed glaring deficiencies,” said McCormick.

McCormick gave one example of texts Twitter obtained from Robert Steel, an investment banker, where he appeared to be in conversation with Musk.

In the texts, Steel asked Musk a question and then replied: “Ok got it.”

“Assuming that Musk’s response was not telepathic, one would expect some evidence of it in Defendants’ document production,” Judge McCormick wrote.

McCormick also accused Musk’s team of being deficient and slow in producing a list of people with knowledge of the deal. This echoed comments McCormick made during a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, in which she said efforts by Musk’s team to identify parties involved in the deal were “suboptimal.”

In her Wednesday opinion, McCormick granted a request from Twitter to obtain company phone records for texts sent by both Musk and Jared Birchall, the man who runs Musk’s family office.

She also denied a request from Musk’s legal team to delay the trial but allowed it to add allegations from Peiter Zatko to its case. Zatko, Twitter’s former head of cybersecurity, filed an explosive whistleblower complaint alleging, among other claims, that Twitter lied to Musk about the number of bots on its platform.

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