Elon Musk wants his rivals, and maybe his critics, to know that he has a powerful legal team at his disposal.
The move to build a legal team (and what he calls a "hardcore litigation department" at that) comes days after reports said that Musk settled a claim of sexual misconduct for $250,000.
That complaint alleges that Musk exposed himself to a flight attendant on a private jet owned by SpaceX and propositioned her, according to a published report. The alleged incident occurred in 2016 on a private jet owned by Musk’s aerospace company, Business Insider reported.
The flight attendant had had hours cut and her schedule reduced after the incident, according to Business Insider, which cited a declaration filed by a friend of the attendant in support of her claim against the company.
Musk denied the report after first asking the publication for more time to respond, saying there is “a lot more to this story,” Business Insider reported.
It quoted Musk as adding: "If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light.” Musk also called the story a "politically motivated hit piece,”
That story broke on May 19, and on May 20 Musk posted the following tweet, looking for lawyers to apply for Tesla's new legal team. He did not mention the sexual harassment lawsuit in his tweet or any of the subsequent ones.
Musk Wants to Deter Legal Claims
Making a public show of building a "hardcore litigation department" sends a message that Musk will fight all allegations against him he believes to be untrue. The Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report CEO did make clear that he does not intend to use his legal team to challenge valid claims.
Musk also made clear in his Twitter posts that he's looking for "hardcore streetfighters, not white-shoe lawyers."
Musk's Actions Provoke a Twitter Response
Post on Twitter and you're subjecting yourself to the wrath of Twitter -- a wrath that will be completely unchecked if Musk ends up owning the social media platform.
Most of the tweets poked fun at his past decisions or called out potential areas where Tesla could be sued.
"Yes, this is such a bizarre tweet by Musk," Agustin de Hiponia tweeted. "The only way to read it is as intimidation, even if I give him the benefit of the doubt, why else would he tweet this? What is really going on at @Tesla and @SpaceX ??????"
Musk did not respond publicly to any of the answers to his tweets. A number of people applied for the job, albeit some in apparent jest.