Elon Musk sparred with a lawyer in court on Monday, calling him a ‘bad human’ who asked ‘tricky and deceptive’ questions

Elon Musk arrives at the Delaware Court of Chancery.
Elon Musk arrived at the Delaware Court of Chancery on Monday.

  • Elon Musk called a lawyer a “bad human” in court on Monday.
  • Musk was defending Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity in court.
  • Musk told the lawyer, representing Tesla shareholders, that his questions were “tricky and deceptive.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk sparred with a lawyer representing Tesla shareholders in court on Monday, calling the attorney a “bad human.”

The Tesla CEO was defending his company’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity in 2016, a solar panel company founded by his cousins. The plaintiffs claim the deal amounted to a bailout of SolarCity.

Musk gave lengthy responses to yes or no questions during the trial at Delaware’s Court of Chancery, frustrating opposing attorney Randall Baron, who told Musk he was holding up the trial, delawareonline.com and AP reported.

Musk told Baron that some of his questions were “really tricky and deceptive,” per AP.

“I think you are a bad human being,” Musk also told Baron, after the lawyer asked him if he was being “derisive” in his answers to questions, per The Washington Post.

“You were mentored by criminals, then you continued to be mentored by criminals,” Musk said to Baron, the Post reported. Musk cited examples of criminal wrongdoing by a former partner at a firm that was a predecessor to Baron’s law firm, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, the Post reported.

Tesla shareholders filed the lawsuit in 2017, claiming that Musk had pressured the company’s board to effectively bail out SolarCity in the $2.6 billion deal. Musk owned a roughly 22% stake in the firm at the time, according to Reuters.

Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s co-founder and Musk’s cousin, described the firm as “super low on cash” and in need of capital in an email to an unnamed person in 2016, soon after the deal was announced.

Read more: Tesla and real-estate giant Brookfield are building a neighborhood in Austin full of renewable-energy tech

Musk denied that he had benefited from the deal. “Since it was a stock-for-stock transaction and I owned almost exactly the same percentage of both there was no financial gain,” he told the court, per CNBC.

In an email to Insider, Baron said that the full damages sought by the lawsuit were between $2.2 and $2.6 billion, although Musk could pay less if found liable.

SolarCity became Tesla’s solar power division, Tesla Energy, after the acquisition. Insider spoke to Tesla Energy solar panel owners earlier this year who said Tesla had not responded to their calls and bumped up solar roof prices by thousands.

Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider when reached for comment.

Do you work at Tesla Energy or are you a Tesla Energy customer? Contact this reporter at acooban@insider.com. If you are an employee always use a non-work email.

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Delaware State University will use Biden’s stimulus to cancel over $700,000 in student debt

Student Debt
  • Delaware State University will cancel over $700,000 in student debt for pandemic financial hardships.
  • This amounts to about $3,276 in cancelation for each eligible students, which encompass recent graduates.
  • The university is using Biden’s stimulus funds to deliver this financial relief to its students.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona issued guidance in March allowing colleges and universities to use funds from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan for a variety of student needs, including grants and scholarships.

Delaware State University (DSU) has decided to use those funds to cancel student debt.

On Wednesday, DSU officials announced they would be canceling up to $730,655 in student debt for recently graduated students who faced financial hardships during the pandemic. Antonio Boyle, Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management, estimated that the average eligible student would qualify for about $3,276 in student debt relief.

“Too many graduates across the country will leave their schools burdened by debt, making it difficult for them to rent an apartment, cover moving costs, or otherwise prepare for their new careers or graduate school,” Boyle said in a statement. “While we know our efforts won’t help with all of their obligations, we all felt it was essential to do our part.”

The university’s president, Tony Allen, noted in the announcement that DSU hasn’t raised its tuition in over six years, it gives every incoming student an iPad or a Macbook, and it’s transitioning its textbooks to less expensive online versions, showing how debt cancelation aligns with the university’s efforts to keep college affordable.

Cardona’s March guidance said that higher education institutions can use stimulus funding for “financial aid grants to dual enrollment, continuing education, non-degree seeking, or non-credit students, as well as to a broad range of students with exceptional needs, such as certain refugees or persons granted asylum,” along with discharging unpaid institutional student debt.

“Many students have had their postsecondary careers turned upside down as they manage their schoolwork while also protecting themselves from this virus,” Cardona said in a statement. “We hope every eligible student takes advantage of these benefits while continuing to focus on their studies.”

While DSU is exercising its authority to forgive institutional debt – debt owed directly to the university, rather than to the government or a private lender – federal student loan debt currently amounts to $1.7 trillion in the US. The Education and Justice Departments are reviewing Biden’s authority to cancel federal debt, but the president has not yet announced a timeline for doing so.

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Biden golfed as president for the first time on his 87th day in office. Trump played on his 15th.

President Joe Biden walks to a motorcade vehicle after golfing at Wilmington Country Club, Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware.
President Joe Biden walks to a motorcade vehicle after golfing at Wilmington Country Club, Saturday, April 17, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware.

  • President Joe Biden played golf for the first time as president on Saturday, his 87th day in office.
  • By contrast, former President Donald Trump first played golf 15 days into his tenure in 2017.
  • During his time as president, Trump played golf nearly 300 times, according to a tracker.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Saturday marked the first time President Joe Biden played golf while in office. It was his 87th day as president.

Former President Donald Trump, in contrast, played golf on his 15th day in office in 2017 after getting inaugurated.

Between Inauguration Day 2017 and April 29, 2017 – Trump’s 100th day in office – the former president visited a golf course nearly every weekend for a total of 19 times, according to tracker Trump Golf Count. At the end of his first year as president, Trump spent more than a third of the year at one of his golf courses.

Biden on Saturday played at the Wilmington Country Club near his home in Delaware. White House pool reporters said he was golfing with adviser Steve Ricchetti and his late son Beau’s father-in-law, Ron Olivere.

Trump generally played golf at his own properties like the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, the golf-tracking website shows.

During his four-year tenure in office, Trump played golf nearly 300 times, the tracker says.

Prior to entering office, he would frequently blast his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for golfing, saying he would never “have time” to play if he were in the role.

And during his presidency, Trump downplayed the amount of time he spent on the course and falsely claimed Obama played more than he did.

“I know many in business and politics that work out endlessly, in some cases to a point of exhaustion. It is their number one passion in life, but nobody complains,” Trump once tweeted. “My ‘exercise’ is playing, almost never during the week, a quick round of golf. Obama played more and much longer rounds, no problem.”

Obama did play more rounds of golf than Trump – but that was over the course of a two-term tenure. In his eight years as president, Obama played 333 rounds of golf.

The frequency sometimes interrupted daily workflow and duties, as Trump’s aides tried and failed to reach him while he was golfing.

Biden, meanwhile, has gained recognition as one of the top 150 players in Washington, DC.

Have a news tip? Reach this reporter at ydzhanova@insider.com

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White House coronavirus advisor Deborah Birx bucked her own guidance and traveled during Thanksgiving holiday weekend

Deborah Birx
Dr. Deborah Birx.

  • Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the members of White House coronavirus task force, traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, despite warnings from health officials to avoid doing so. 
  • Around the time of Thanksgiving, Birx had been among the health officials giving such warnings to the American public. 
  • But Birx skirted the guidance and took a trip to Delaware during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the Associated Press reported.
  • There, she mingled indoors and had a meal with family members who live in different households.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, traveled and saw some members of her extended family during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend despite urging Americans to avoid doing the same. 

Birx went to Delaware the day after Thanksgiving, the Associated Press reported. There, she spent time with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. In a statement to the AP, Birx said these were people who are part of her “immediate household.” But they do not all live in the same home. 

Leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, Birx was one of the health officials urging Americans to sacrifice traveling this year to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“It looked like things were starting to improve in our northern plain states, and now with Thanksgiving, we’re worried that all of that will be reversed,” Birx said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” People should “take it upon yourself to be restrictive” and selective about the ways they pass their holiday time, she said. 

“If your family traveled, you have to assume that you were exposed and you became infected and you really need to get tested in the next week,” Birx added. 

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment from Business Insider asking if Birx had received a test upon returning from her travels.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned against traveling during this holiday season. Still, a whopping 1.1 million Americans traveled in airplanes on the final day of the Thanksgiving weekend. 

The CDC also discourages indoor interaction with people from different households. “People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households,” a CDC webpage states.

Birx told the AP she had not gathered with her family in Delaware “for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving.” Instead, she said, she went to prepare the Delaware home ahead of a potential sale. But Birx and the other family members did share a meal together. 

One of her relatives complained about her travel, telling the AP that Birx chose to skirt the guidance and it’s caused “family friction.” 

“She cavalierly violated her own guidance,” said Kathleen Flynn, the sister of a brother married to Birx’s daughter. 

Meanwhile, Birx’s father, Richard, defended her. “Dr. Birx is very conscientious and a very good doctor and scientist from everything I can see,” he told the AP. 

Birx has been trying to secure a spot in the incoming Biden administration. She’s reached out to various Biden aides to make a case for herself. The Biden transition team did not immediately return a request for comment. 

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