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Elon Musk takes witness stand to defend Tesla buyout tweets

By :The International Desk
Published : Jan 21, 2023 01:42:00 PM | Tech

Elon Musk took the witness stand Friday to defend a 2018 tweet claiming he had lined up the financing to take Tesla private in a deal that never came close to happening.

The tweet resulted in a $40 million settlement with securities regulators. It also led to a class-action lawsuit alleging he misled investors, pulling him into court for about a half hour Friday to deliver sworn testimony in front of a nine-person jury and a full room of media and other spectators, reports AP.

The trial was then adjourned for the weekend and Musk was told to return Monday to answer more questions.

In his initial appearance on the stand, Musk defended his prolific tweeting as “the most democratic way” to distribute information even while acknowledging constraints of Twitter's 280-character limit can make it difficult to make everything as clear as possible.

“I think you can absolutely be truthful (on Twitter),” Musk asserted on the stand. “But can you be comprehensive? Of course not,”

Musk's latest headache stems from the inherent brevity on Twitter, a service that he has been running since completing his $44 billion purchase of it in October.

The trial hinges on the question of whether a pair of tweets that Musk posted on Aug. 7, 2018, damaged Tesla shareholders during a 10-day period leading up to a Musk admission that the buyout he had envisioned wasn’t going to happen.

In the first of those those two 2018 tweets, Musk stated “funding secured” for a what would have been a $72 billion buyout of Tesla at a time when the electric automaker was still grapping with production problems and was worth far less than it is now. Musk followed up a few hours later with another tweet suggesting a deal was imminent.

After it became apparent that the money wasn't in place to take Tesla private, Musk stepped down as Tesla’s chairman while remaining CEO as part of the Securities and Exchange Commission settlement, without acknowledging any wrongdoing.

The impulsive billionaire came into court wearing a dark suit and tie on the third day of the civil trial in San Francisco that his lawyer unsuccessfully tried to move to Texas, where Tesla is now headquartered, on the premise that media coverage of his tumultuous takeover of Twitter had tainted the jury pool.