Elon Musk’s private messages could once again land him in a legal battle with Twitter. Lawyers for both sides are again facing off in Delaware Chancery Court before an October trial will decide the fate of the deal.
One of the issues raised during the more than three-hour hearing was Musk’s use of the encrypted messaging app Signal. Twitter’s lawyers claimed that Musk had been withholding messages sent through the app, citing screenshots of exchanges between Musk and Jared Berchar, the head of Musk’s family office.
The message mentioned Morgan Stanley and Marc Andresen, as well as “conversations regarding EU regulatory approval of Musk’s deal with Twitter,” according to Twitter’s lawyers. Twitter’s lawyers said they found a screenshot of the deal after Musk and Berchar denied using Signal to discuss the deal. The screenshot shows that the message is set to be deleted automatically.
Twitter’s lawyer also cited “a missing text message” between Musk and Oracle chairman , who will be a co-investor in the Twitter deal.Musk and Ellison text the morning before Musk Twitter deal “on hold for now.” It’s unclear what the texts meant, but Twitter’s lawyers noted that Musk had written to Ellison about “fun time” before arranging a call with Ellison.
Lawyers for Twitter are asking the judge in the case, Kathaleen St. J. McCormick, to impose sanctions on Musk’s handling of his messages. “We do believe that the time has come for the courts to impose severe sanctions,” Twitter’s lawyers said at the hearing.
Musk has tried to downplay the importance of the Tesla CEO’s use of Signal. “There is actually no evidence that we destroyed the evidence,” one of Musk’s lawyers responded. “The signal, you know, sounds like a nefarious device,” she said. “In fact, Twitter executives have testified that some of them actually used Signal messaging.”
Musk’s lawyers cited the existence of Signal information between Jack Dorsey and board chairman Bret Taylor, noting that current CEO Parag Agrawal also handed over Signal information. “Signaling is not some exotic mechanism, and using this platform is common in Silicon Valley,” she said.
Notably, the latest hearing is not the first time Twitter’s lawyers have used private information Musk obtained during the legal discovery process to enforce the original terms of a deal with Musk. Lawyers for Twitter have previously pointed to text messages between Musk and one of his Morgan Stanley bankers in which he referred as a reason to de-escalate his negotiations with Twitter.
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