Former Defense Secretary Mattis testifies in Holmes fraud trial

A few months after retiring from the military in 2013, Mattis joined the Theranos board of directors and also invested some of his own savings in the startup. In 2017, Mattis joined President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

Nicknamed “Mad Dog” during his military service, Mattis testified that Holmes initially viewed him as a “sharp, articulate, dedicated” CEO who piqued his interest when she described the compact blood testing machine called Edison that Theranos was developing .

Holmes assured him that the Edison would be able to scan for health problems with the prick of a finger – a concept that Mattis said he found “quite breathtaking” because of its potential uses in the battlefield.

“I firmly believe in what you designed / built and I hope we can get it to the cinema soon for testing,” Mattis wrote in an email in March 2013, just before he retired from the military . In other emails, Mattis lovingly addressed Holmes as “young Elizabeth”.

During Mattis ‘cross-examination, a Holmes attorney revealed a July 2013 email from the retired general suggesting he had low expectations of Theranos’ influence in the military. “The US military might be a customer, but probably not immediately or on a large scale,” Mattis wrote while asking for permission to serve on Theranos’ board of directors.

In another email submitted by prosecutors during Mattis’ testimony, Holmes reaffirmed his belief in what Theranos could do for the military. “This initiative is a small way to serve and we will do everything we can to make it a success,” Holmes assured him in her email.

When Mattis testified, Holmes watched him carefully without showing much emotion. Holmes protests her innocence, arguing that she put her life into an invention that she sincerely believed would revolutionize medicine but failed in her search.

Holmes, 37, convinced Mattis, 71, to join Theranos’ board of directors later in 2013 despite having no medical background. Mattis testified that Holmes wanted him on the board so he could teach her about leadership and team building.

Mattis said not only had he joined the board of directors, but he had also decided to invest $ 85,000 of his own savings in order to have some “skin in the game.” Theranos paid him $ 150,000 annually as a board member, according to evidence presented by Holmes’ attorneys on Wednesday.

When he left Theranos in late 2016, Mattis testified that he had lost confidence in Holmes. His disenchantment began a year earlier after a series of explosive article in the Wall Street Journal Troubling flaws and inaccuracies in Theranos blood testing technology uncovered. These revelations sparked the downfall of Theranos and culminated in the criminal case against Holmes, which, if convicted, could jail her for up to 20 years.

“At some point I no longer knew what to believe about Theranos,” said Mattis, although he could not give an exact date when he lost confidence in Holmes.

Mattis isn’t the only known director or investor who has loved Holmes and Theranos.

Other Theranos board members included other former cabinet members such as the late George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry, and former Wells Fargo Bank CEO Richard Kovacevich. The list of billionaire investors who once valued the privately owned company at $ 9 billion – with half of the shares owned by Holmes – included media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Walmart’s Walton family, and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.

Some of them are expected to testify during a trial that is due to run until December 17th.

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