Retired four-star general and former US Secretary of Defense James Mattis wrote admiring messages to Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes after telling him about her startup’s technology Wednesday.
“There just came a point that I just didn’t know what to believe about Theranos, “said Mattis.
Mattis was commander of the US and Allied Forces in the Middle East when he first met Holmes in 2011 in San Francisco after he had given a speech, he testified. She described blood testing technology that could be used on the battlefield, and the two began an email correspondence, Mattis told the jury.
“Thank you, young Elisabeth. I firmly believe in what you designed / built and I hope we can get it to the cinema soon to be tested, ”wrote Mattis in 2013.
Holmes’ alleged claims that Theranos machines are from US Defense Department on the battlefield in Afghanistan and on Medevac helicopters are a central issue in this case.
Holmes built a high-profile board of directors, which in addition to Mattis also included former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the late Secretary of State George Shultz and William Foege, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, are on their side.
Mattis, who would later invest $ 85,000 in Theranos and sit on the company’s board of directors, said he was a military commander He was captivated by Holmes’ description of a single, small device that could quickly test blood.
“It would be very, very helpful if it could do what she said,” said Mattis. “We have been dealing with a lot of violence and have suffered many victims. You might find, ‘Do you have to go to an ambulance in the middle of the night during a storm?’ What she hinted at about speed could help doctors make triage decisions about who will be treated first. “
Holmes he said his only source of information about Theranos was when he made a fruitless attempt to get the Department of Defense to test Theranos ‘devices “side-by-side” with other companies’ blood testers. He said he was unaware that Theranos’ technology was ever used by the department.
Mattis resigned as Secretary of Defense in 2018 after former President Donald Trump withdrew US troops from Syria because of strong objections from Mattis and others on the national security team.
Holmes is charged with a dozen fraudulent crimes in connection with her failed blood test startup in Palo Alto. Stanford University dropout, who founded Theranos in 2003 at the age of 19, is accused of mocking hundreds of millions of dollars of investors, defrauding patients, and misleading patients and doctors with false claims that Theranos’ machines are one You could do quite a lot of tests with just a few drops of blood from a fingertip. She has denied the claims.
During the cross-examination, Holmes attorney Kevin Downey asked Mattis if he knew that “Theranos devices were sent to Africa and with the chief surgeon” of the U.S. Africa Command. Mattis said he wasn’t aware of this. The Securities and Exchange Commission has claimed that “Theranos’ technology was never used by the US Department of Defense.” After Mattis retired from the military, Holmes invited him to join the Theranos board of directors in 2013 to address the To help companies enter the commercial blood testing market, he said. “It was pretty breathtaking, number 1 what she meant,” said Mattis. “I thought it would be a very worthwhile project if it wanted to reduce health care costs. And also the accuracy and just the speed. I could understand that this would be very helpful in any medical setting. ”
Prosecutor John Bostic showed the jury an email from Holmes to Mattis advising him not to speak to a reporter about it like that Theranos technology works – in particular, that “there is a single device that does all the testing”. “I thought it was pretty weird,” Mattis said. “Why don’t we want to talk about it?”
Bostic showed the judges a slide show from the first Theranos board meeting that Mattis attended, which said the company could run 2,000 tests. Prosecutors have alleged that Theranos machines could only run a dozen types of tests and used machines from other companies for other tests. Mattis said he couldn’t remember Theranos using third party machines to test.
“I assumed what we were told was correct,” he said. “I assumed that the statement ‘These are the Theranos results’ comes from Theranos machines. In retrospect, that doesn’t seem right. The whole time I thought we were doing it with Theranos devices and I was a member of the board. ”
After a 2015 exposé of Theranos in the Wall Street Journal, another board member asked Holmes how in an email many patients had their blood tested on Theranos devices and how many had their blood tested on devices from other companies, an email showed the judges. “We don’t have a good percentage at the moment,” replied Holmes.
Mattis “didn’t know what to believe at this point,” he testified. “There were too many surprises. There was a lack of transparency. We only saw the fundamental problems that (Holmes) … was grappling with in the rearview mirror. ”
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Holmes attorney Kevin Downey coaxed Mattis into saying that other Theranos board members were a “strong group” whose members had scientific, technical, and business expertise that he lacked and that they could “absolutely” ask questions when related company not sure of anything.