Musk Can Use Whistleblower's Twitter Claims

But he doesn't get the delay he asked for
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2022 7:56 AM CDT
Updated Sep 7, 2022 1:08 PM CDT
Twitter: Worry (Supposedly) on Musk's Mind: 'World War III'
Elon Musk speaks at the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) fair on sustainable energy in Stavanger, Norway, on Aug. 29.   (Carina Johansen/NTB Scanpix via AP)

Update: It's one point to Twitter and one to Elon Musk, with Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick on Wednesday ruling that Musk cannot delay the trial's start by four weeks as he requested. "I am convinced that even four weeks’ delay would risk further harm to Twitter too great to justify," she wrote, per Gizmodo. But Musk did get one ask granted: He'll be able to include the claims of whistleblower Peiter "Mudge" Zatko in his countersuit, though McCormick noted "defendants are permitted only incremental discovery relevant to the new allegations." The AP reports Twitter shares rose 5.5% to $40.77 on the news. Our story from earlier Wednesday follows:

We already know Elon Musk is fearful of artificial intelligence. Now, another purported cause of unease for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has emerged, this time related to his now-contentious deal to buy Twitter. The Guardian reports on a Tuesday hearing in Wilmington, Del., in which Twitter's legal team pushed back on Musk's attempts to delay next month's trial over his bid to slip out of his $44 billion deal to buy the social media platform. To bolster that bid, Musk has latched on to the claims of whistleblower Peiter "Mudge" Zatko, the ex-security chief for the company who alleges Twitter has "egregious" security issues and isn't doing enough to fight bots and spam.

Twitter, however, says Zatko's claims are a "false narrative," and it produced a message from Musk at the hearing as evidence that he simply got cold feet after not doing enough research beforehand. "It won't make sense to buy Twitter if we're heading into World War III," Musk wrote in a May 8 text to one of his bankers, Morgan Stanley's Michael Grimes, asking Grimes to stall the deal until after a speech set to be given by Vladimir Putin the next day on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Writing for Intelligencer, Kevin T. Dugan frames it as Twitter trying to show that Musk got buyer's remorse over "a fear that [Putin] could blow up the world and make a big acquisition moot."

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Bloomberg notes the text was sent just two weeks after Musk had agreed to buy Twitter. "Mr. Musk is blaming Twitter for his failing to do customary due diligence," Twitter attorney William Savitt said at the hearing, per the Guardian. Savitt added that even if Musk is allowed to tack on Zatko's claims to his lawsuit, which is designed to help him walk away from the deal, the trial set for Oct. 17 should continue as planned. Musk lawyer Alex Spiro thinks otherwise. "Doesn't justice demand a few weeks to look into this?" Spiro asked. Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick, of Delaware's Court of Chancery, is expected to give her decision on the delay later this week. (More Elon Musk stories.)

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