Of the two sides, Twitter has so far been more aggressive in the discovery process for the case. The company has issued more than 84 subpoenas to uncover discussions that might prove that Mr. Musk soured on the acquisition because the economic downturn decreased his personal wealth. (Mr. Musk’s net worth still stands at $259 billion, according to Bloomberg.)

Twitter has sent subpoenas to Mr. Musk’s friends and associates, such as the former SpaceX board member Antonio Gracias and the entertainment executive Kristina Salen, to get insight into their group chats. The company has also summoned investors like Mr. Andreessen and Mr. Ellison, who agreed to pony up money so Mr. Musk could do the deal.

Mr. Musk himself has agreed to sift through every text he sent or received between Jan. 1 and July 8 for messages relevant to Twitter. His side’s subpoena total stands at more than 36 — including one to Mr. Dorsey — as Mr. Musk tries to show that Twitter lied about the number of inauthentic accounts on its platform, which he has cited as a reason to pull out of the deal.

Mr. Musk has demanded voluminous data from Twitter, including correspondence among its board members and years of account information. Last Thursday, the court granted Mr. Musk a limited set of 9,000 accounts that Twitter audited to determine how many bots were on the platform during a particular quarter. He has also subpoenaed the company’s bankers, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan.

But Mr. Musk has also shown his unhappiness over Twitter’s attempts to obtain his group chats. This month, his lawyers tried limiting the company’s inquiries, saying they did not plan to turn over messages from “friends and acquaintances with whom Mr. Musk may have had passing exchanges regarding Twitter.”

tweeted.

Mr. Sacks, another friend of Mr. Musk’s who worked with him at PayPal, responded to a subpoena from Twitter with a tweet that included an image of a Mad magazine cover featuring a giant middle finger.

In a court filing on Friday, Mr. Sacks’s lawyers, who filed a motion to quash the subpoenas, said he had produced 90 documents for Twitter so far. They accused the company of “harassing” Mr. Sacks and creating “significant” legal bills for him by subpoenaing him in California and Delaware.

A lawyer for Mr. Sacks did not respond to a request for comment.

Kathaleen McCormick, the judge overseeing the case, has largely waved off Mr. Musk’s objections about the subpoenas to his friends. Mr. Musk’s conduct in discovery “has been suboptimal,” and his requests for years of data were “absurdly broad” she wrote in rulings last week.

“Defendants cannot refuse to respond to a discovery request because they have unilaterally deemed the request irrelevant,” Ms. McCormick wrote. “Even assuming that Musk has many friends and family members, Defendants’ breadth, burden, and proportionality arguments ring hollow.”

Ed Zimmerman, a lawyer who represents start-ups and venture capitalists, said it wasn’t surprising that Silicon Valley techies appeared unwilling to be drawn into the case. The venture industry has long operated with little regulatory oversight. Investors have only begrudgingly become more accustomed to legal processes as their industry has fallen under more scrutiny, he said.

“Venture for so long has been very accustomed to being an outsider thing,” he said. “We didn’t have to focus on following all the rules, and there wasn’t that much litigation.”

For law firms, Mr. Musk’s battle with Twitter has become a bonanza — especially financially.

“I’m sure they’re all hiring fancy high-end law firms,” Mr. Melkonian said. “Those guys are going to charge thousands of dollars per hour for preparation.”

That’s if you can find a lawyer at all. Between Mr. Musk and Twitter, they have sewn up a passel of top law firms.

Twitter has hired five law firms with expertise in corporate disputes and Delaware law: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Potter Anderson & Corroon; Ballard Spahr; Kobre & Kim; and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Mr. Musk has retained a team of four firms: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Chipman Brown Cicero & Cole; and Sheppard Mullin.

Other leading tech law firms — including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Perkins Coie, Baker McKenzie, and Fenwick & West — declined to comment, citing conflicts in the case.

Lawyers sitting on the sidelines probably feel left out, Mr. Zimmerman said. “If I were a trial lawyer in San Francisco, with a specialty of dealing with venture funds and the growth companies they invest in, there ought to be that FOMO,” he said, referring to the shorthand for the “fear of missing out.”

For those who have been tapped, the next several months are likely to be chaotic.

“For people who do this work, this is what we live for,” said Karen Dunn, a litigator for tech companies who has represented Apple and Uber, and who is not involved in the Twitter case. “It moves incredibly fast, it is all consuming.”

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Meadows, Powell Testimony Sought In Georgia Election Probe

Former chief of staff Mark Meadows, lawyer Sidney Powell are among the highest-profile members of Trump’s circle to be called to testify in the probe.

The prosecutor investigating whether Donald Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia is seeking to compel testimony from more allies of the former president, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows and lawyer Sidney Powell.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed petitions Thursday seeking to have Meadows and Powell, as well as James “Phil” Waldron, who met with Meadows, and former Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn, testify before a special grand jury in Atlanta next month.

Meadows, Trump’s final chief of staff, and Powell, a dogged advocate of the president’s false claims of widespread election fraud, are among the highest-profile members of Trump’s circle to be summoned to testify in the probe, joining other top figures including Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham. It further raises the legal stakes for the former president as he weighs a 2024 presidential bid.

Because they don’t live in Georgia, Willis has to use a process that involves getting judges in the states where they live to order them to appear. The petitions she filed Thursday are essentially precursors to subpoenas. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s overseeing the special grand jury, signed off on the petitions, certifying that each person whose testimony is sought is a “necessary and material” witness for the investigation.

Willis wrote that each of them has unique knowledge about their communications with Trump, his campaign and others “involved in the multi-state, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere.”

George Terwilliger, a lawyer for Meadows, declined to comment Thursday. Epshteyn didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Powell and Waldron could not immediately be reached.

Willis last month filed similar petitions for seven other Trump associates and attorneys, including Giuliani and Graham. Giuliani, who’s been told he’s a target of the investigation, testified before the special grand jury last week. Graham is fighting his subpoena in court.

Also on Thursday, lawyers for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appeared in court to argue that he shouldn’t have to testify before the special grand jury. And Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer who was part of the earlier batch of Trump associates whom Willis sought to compel to testify, filed a motion to quash his subpoena.

In the petition seeking Meadows’ testimony, Willis wrote that Meadows attended a Dec. 21, 2020, meeting at the White House with Trump and others “to discuss allegations of voter fraud and certification of electoral college votes from Georgia and other states.” The next day, Willis wrote, Meadows made a “surprise visit” to Cobb County, just outside Atlanta, where an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes was being conducted. He asked to observe the audit but wasn’t allowed to because it wasn’t open to the public, the petition says.

Between Jan. 30, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021, Meadows sent emails to Justice Department officials making allegations of voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere and requesting investigations, Willis wrote. He was also on a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which Trump suggested the state’s top elections official could “find” enough votes to overturn his narrow election loss in the state.

In the petition seeking Powell’s testimony, Willis wrote that Powell is “known to be affiliated with both former President Donald Trump and the Trump Campaign.” The petition says attorney Lin Wood said in a television interview that Powell was part of a group who met at his home in South Carolina “for the purpose of exploring options to influence the results of the November 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere.” Wood, who’s licensed in Georgia, said Powell asked him to help find Georgia residents to serve as plaintiffs in lawsuits contesting the state’s election results, Willis wrote.

In June of this year, the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol released a deposition of Powell in which she said that in the weeks following the 2020 election, Trump asked her to be “special counsel to address the election issues and to collect evidence,” saying he was frustrated with law enforcement agencies, Willis wrote.

Last week, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed that it is helping the Georgia secretary of state’s office look into an alleged breach of elections data in Coffee County in south Georgia, Willis wrote. She noted that publicly reported emails indicate that Powell coordinated with a data solutions company to get elections data from Coffee County in early January 2021 and was involved in similar efforts in Michigan and Nevada.

Special grand juries are impaneled in Georgia to investigate complex cases with large numbers of witnesses and potential logistical concerns. They can compel evidence and subpoena witnesses for questioning, but they do not have the power to indict. When its investigation is complete, the special grand jury issues a final report and can recommend action. It’s then up to the district attorney to decide whether to ask a regular grand jury for an indictment.

During the hearing Thursday on Kemp’s attempt to avoid testifying, his lawyers argued that he is protected from having to testify by the principle of sovereign immunity, which says the state can’t be sued without its consent. Prosecutors argued that’s not applicable because Kemp is not being sued but instead is being called as a witness to provide facts for an investigation.

Kemp’s attorneys accuse the district attorney of pursuing a “politically motivated” probe, something she has vehemently denied.

Kemp attorney Brian McEvoy argued that, if the governor does have to testify, it shouldn’t happen until after the general election. Kemp faces a rematch with Democrat Stacey Abrams in November in one of the most high-profile and closely watched gubernatorial contests in the country.

“Your Honor is well aware of where we are, what state we’re in, what race we’re facing, and the governor ought not have to suffer political consequences for invoking a legal right,” McEvoy said.

Prosecutor Donald Wakeford noted that Willis waited until after contentious primary elections in late May to begin calling witnesses before the special grand jury for that very reason. The governor could have quietly honored a subpoena to appear last week without any media attention, Wakeford argued, but instead, his attorneys filed the motion to quash the day before, thrusting the issue into the public eye.

“To continually insist that this is a situation engineered by the district attorney’s office to the intentional detriment of the governor is just not true,” Wakeford said.

Judge McBurney did not immediately rule and it wasn’t clear when he would.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Musk Subpoenas Former Twitter CEO And Friend Jack Dorsey

By Associated Press
August 23, 2022

Twitter and Musk are headed for an Oct. 17 trial that should determine whether Twitter can force him to go through with the acquisition.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has subpoenaed his friend and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as part of an effort to back out of his $44 billion agreement to acquire the company Dorsey helped found, according to court documents.

Twitter and Musk are headed for an Oct. 17 trial in Delaware that should determine whether Twitter can force the billionaire to go through with the acquisition.

Twitter has subpoenaed a host of tech investors and entrepreneurs connected to Musk, including prominent venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and David Sacks, the founding chief operating officer of PayPal.

Musk has claimed that Twitter failed to provide adequate information about the number of fake, or “spam bot,” Twitter accounts, and that it has breached its obligations under the deal by firing top managers and laying off a significant number of employees. Musk’s team expects more information about the bot numbers to be revealed in the trial court discovery process, when both sides must hand over evidence.

Twitter argues that Musk’s reasons for backing out are just a cover for buyer’s remorse. Shortly after Musk agreed to pay 38% above Twitter’s stock price, the stock market stumbled and shares of the electric-car maker Tesla, where most of Musk’s personal wealth resides, lost more than $100 billion of their value.

The subpoena was served last week. It asks Dorsey for documents and communications related to the acquisition, as well as information on the effect of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s business and its measurement of daily active users.

A lawyer representing Dorsey did not immediately respond to a message for comment on Monday.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Trump Says He Took The Fifth Amendment In New York Investigation

Allegations against Trump claim his company misstated the value of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers, misleading lenders and tax authorities.

Donald Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment and wouldn’t answer questions under oath in the New York attorney general’s long-running civil investigation into his business dealings, the former president said in a statement Wednesday.

Trump arrived at state Attorney General Letitia James’ offices in a motorcade shortly before 9 a.m., announcing more than an hour later that he “declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” the statement said. “When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the Fake News Media, you have no choice.”

As vociferous as Trump has been in defending himself in written statements and on the rally stage, legal experts say the same strategy could have backfired in a deposition setting because anything he says could potentially be used in the criminal investigation.

His decision comes just days after FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of an unrelated federal probe into whether he took classified records when he left the White House.

The civil investigation, led by James, involves allegations that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misstated the value of prized assets like golf courses and skyscrapers, misleading lenders and tax authorities.

“My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides,” Trump wrote beforehand on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded. “Banana Republic!”

Messages seeking comment were left with James’ office and with Trump’s lawyer.

In May, James’ office said that it was nearing the end of its probe and that investigators had amassed substantial evidence that could support legal action against Trump, his company or both. The Republican’s deposition — a legal term for sworn testimony that’s not given in court — was one of the few remaining missing pieces, the attorney general’s office said.

Two of Trump’s adult children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, testified in recent days, two people familiar with the matter said. The people were not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.

The three Trumps’ testimony had initially been planned for last month but was delayed after the July 14 death of the former president’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, the mother of Ivanka, Donald Jr. and another son, Eric Trump, who sat for a deposition in James’ investigation in 2020.

On Friday, the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, will be in court seeking dismissal of tax fraud charges brought against them last year in the Manhattan district attorney’s parallel criminal probe — spurred by evidence uncovered by James’ office. Weisselberg and the company have pleaded not guilty.

James, a Democrat, has said in court filings that her office has uncovered “significant” evidence that Trump’s company “used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

James alleges the Trump Organization exaggerated the value of its holdings to impress lenders or misstated what land was worth to slash its tax burden, pointing to annual financial statements given to banks to secure favorable loan terms and to financial magazines to justify Trump’s place among the world’s billionaires.

The company even exaggerated the size of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse, saying it was nearly three times its actual size — a difference in value of about $200 million, James’ office said.

Trump has denied the allegations, explaining that seeking the best valuations is a common practice in the real estate industry. He says James’ investigation is politically motivated and that her office is “doing everything within their corrupt discretion to interfere with my business relationships, and with the political process.” He’s also accused James, who is Black, of racism in pursuing the investigation.

“THERE IS NO CASE!” Trump said in a February statement, after Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that James’ office had “the clear right” to question Trump and other principals in his company.

Once her investigation wraps up, James could decide to bring a lawsuit and seek financial penalties against Trump or his company, or even a ban on them being involved in certain types of businesses.

Meanwhile, the Manhattan district attorney’s office has long pursued a parallel criminal investigation. No former president has even been charged with a crime.

That probe had appeared to be progressing toward a possible criminal indictment of Trump himself, but slowed after a new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, took office in January: A grand jury that had been hearing evidence disbanded. The top prosecutor who had been handling the probe resigned after Bragg raised questions internally about the viability of the case.

Bragg has said his investigation is continuing, which means that Trump could invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and decline to answer questions from James’ investigators during the deposition in a Manhattan office tower that has doubled as the headquarters of the fictional conglomerate Waystar Royco — run by a character inspired partly by Trump — on HBO’s “Succession.”

In fighting to block the subpoenas, lawyers for the Trumps argued New York authorities were using the civil investigation to get information for the criminal probe and that the depositions were a ploy to avoid calling them before a criminal grand jury, where state law requires they be given immunity.

Weisselberg and Eric Trump each invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 500 times when questioned by James’ lawyers during separate depositions in 2020, according to court papers.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Report: Investigators Question Former WH Aides On Fake Electors Scheme

This report comes after the January 6 Committee wrapped up 8 public hearings so far this year, with more expected to come in September.

Days after the end of an explosive summer series of January 6th Committee hearings, there are new signs the Department of Justice is stepping up its own investigation into the infamous day and closing in on former President Donald Trump.

“We intend to hold everyone, anyone, who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable; that’s what we do. We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The Washington Post reported investigators have questioned witnesses about Trump’s behavior in front of a federal grand jury.  Among them, Marc Short, former chief of staff to then Vice President Mike Pence.

“I can confirm I did receive a subpoena for a federal grand jury, and I did comply with that subpoena,” said Short.

Of interest to the Justice Department is a Trump-backed plan to substitute fake electors from key states won by Joe Biden.  

The far-fetched scheme was laid out in stunning detail during a committee hearing in June, where vice chair Liz Cheney detailed an unsuccessful attempt by members of Trump’s justice department to send a letter casting doubt on President Biden’s victory in Georgia.

“The letter also said this: ‘In light of these developments, the Department recommends that the Georgia General Assembly should convene in special session’ … and consider approving a new slate of electors. And indicates that a separate … ‘fake slate of electors supporting Donald Trump has already been transmitted to Washington, D.C.’,” Rep. Liz Cheney read from committee-obtained documents in their June 23rd public hearing.

But the committee has shied away from saying it wants to push the Biden Justice Department to pursue charges in the fake electors scheme. Committee member Jamie Raskin deflected on that question in a Newsy interview last week

“The DOJ has a lot more resources than we do to collect evidence and that, of course, is the major business they’re involved in. So, I don’t think we really gave them a lot that they didn’t already have, or at least they didn’t have the capacity to get,” said Raskin.

Pressure on the department is coming not only from the public hearings but also a separate criminal investigation in Georgia, where prosecutors have taken a series of eye-catching steps in recent weeks related to Trump’s efforts to overturn election results in the state, including sending subpoenas to Georgia congressman Jody Hice, and compelling Rudy Giuliani to testify.

All while the select committee continues its work, planning to resume public hearings in September.  

“Obviously, we have two different interests; ours is to get to the bottom of what happened, put out recommendations… the Department of Justice needs to look at any possible criminality. I just have to ask, what have they been doing for the last year and a half?” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

Source: newsy.com

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