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Jury deliberates for 45 minutes before handing Elon Musk victory in ‘pedo guy’ defamation trial

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Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk gained a stunning legal victory on Friday as a federal court jury swiftly rejected the US$190 million defamation claim brought by a British cave explorer who Musk had branded a “pedo guy” on Twitter.

The unanimous verdict by a jury of five women and three men was returned after about 45 minutes of deliberation on the fourth day of Musk’s trial, which was closely watched by legal experts because it is believed to be the first major defamation lawsuit by a private individual to go to trial over tweets.

READ MORE: Defamation trial over Elon Musk’s ‘pedo guy’ tweet begins

Musk, 48, who had testified during the first two days of the trial in his own defence and returned to court on Friday to hear closing arguments from the two sides, exited the courtroom after the verdict and said: “My faith in humanity is restored.”

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Outside the courthouse, cave explorer Vernon Unsworth told a throng of reporters he was resigned to his defeat. “I accept the jury’s verdict, take it on the chin and get on with my life.”

British cave diver Vernon Unsworth attends closing arguments of his defamation trial against Elon Musk in Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2019.
British cave diver Vernon Unsworth attends closing arguments of his defamation trial against Elon Musk in Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mona Shafer Edwards

The case stems from a public quarrel between Musk and Unsworth, who gained fame for his leading role in coordinating the successful rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand in July 2018.

Tesla Cybertruck’s ‘armour glass’ windows smash during demo

Tesla Cybertruck’s ‘armour glass’ windows smash during demo

Unsworth, 64, had chided Musk in a CNN interview for delivering a mini-submarine, which was never used, to the site of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system. Unsworth called Musk’s intervention a “P.R.” stunt and said the high-tech entrepreneur should “stick his submarine where it hurts.”

Musk responded two days later on Twitter with three posts that became the basis of the defamation case. The first questioned Unsworth’s role in the rescue, while the second said, “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it,” using a slang term of pedophile.

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The third tweet, in reply to a follower who asked Musk about the second tweet, said, “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.”

READ MORE: Smashing success? After cybertruck demo, Elon Musk says Tesla has received 146K orders

In closing arguments on Friday, Unsworth’s lead attorney, L. Lin Wood, summed up his case by castigating Musk as a “billionaire bully” who had “dropped a nuclear bomb” on Unsworth in his Twitter blast.

Wood said Musk’s “pedo guy” remark was a slur that would overshadow Unsworth’s relationships and job prospects for years to come and urged jurors to teach the Tesla chief executive and SpaceX founder a lesson by awarding Unsworth $190 million, including $150 million in punitive damages.

SEC goes after Elon Musk over another tweet

SEC goes after Elon Musk over another tweet

Two days earlier, under questioning on the witness stand, Musk had estimated his net worth at $20 billion.

But the jury was apparently swayed by the arguments put forth by Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, who said the tweets in question arose from an argument between two men and amounted to an off-hand insult that no one could be expected to take seriously.

READ MORE: Elon Musk faces trial for ‘pedo’ insult after dismissal attempt fails

“In arguments you insult people,” he said. “There is no bomb. No bomb went off.”

Spiro also said Unsworth failed to demonstrate that he suffered any harm from Musk’s comments, which the South African-born businessman apologized for in court earlier in the week.

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© 2019 Reuters

Source: Global News

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Prince Harry, Meghan will no longer be working members of the royal family

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Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will no longer be working members of the royal family, Buckingham Palace says.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Palace confirmed the pair will be required to “step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments,” and will no longer receive public funds for royal duties.

READ MORE: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle are moving to Canada: Here’s what we know

According to the statement, the Sussexes will not use their royal titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family, and will repay money used to refurbish Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their family home in the U.K.

“With the Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations,” the statement reads.

According to the Palace, while the pair can no longer formally represent the Queem

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In a statement, Queen Elizabeth II said the decision comes following “months of conversations and more recent discussions.”

Harry, 35, and his American wife, former actress Meghan, 38, sparked a crisis in the British monarchy this month by announcing they wanted to reduce their royal duties and spend more time in North America, while also becoming financially independent.

The Sussexs in… Sussex, N.B.?
The Sussexs in… Sussex, N.B.?

“I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” she said in the statement. “Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.”

According to the palace, the new model will take effect in the spring of this year.

-More to come.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source: Global News

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No immediate injuries reported after earthquake shakes Indonesia

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A strong inland earthquake late Saturday night struck Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province. There were no immediate reports of major damage or casualties.

The magnitude 6.0 quake was centred 141 kilometres west of Abepura city at a depth of 33.6 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

READ MORE: Mudslides, power outages in Indonesia challenge search for people missing amid floods

Rahmat Triyono, head of Indonesia’s earthquake and tsunami centre, said in a statement the inland earthquake did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, and urged people to stay away from slopes of soil or rocks that have the potential for landslides as people in some parts of Papua province felt a moderate tremor for a few seconds.

He said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

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© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Here are the rules surrounding Trump’s Senate impeachment trial

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Earlier this week, after nearly a month-long standoff, the articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump were formally handed over to the Senate, setting into motion an historic trial.

Although the trial ceremonially began on Thursday, its substantive proceedings are scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Trump’s impeachment articles head to Senate — Here’s what to watch for

While not a criminal trial, the Senate is tasked with deciding whether Trump’s conduct warrants his removal from the office of the President of the United States.

On Thursday, the two articles were read aloud on the Senate floor, and Senators — who will act as jurors —  were sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, taking an oath to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.”

Now that the process has moved to the Senate — the upper chamber of Congress — a new series of rules will be put in place to govern the proceedings.

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How will the Senate impeachment trial work and what are the rules?

Here’s a look at what’s happening.

What’s at issue

On Dec. 18, Trump became the third-ever U.S. President to be impeached.

Following weeks of investigation, a majority of Congress members in the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favour of impeaching Trump over two charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Trump says U.S. has a good president ‘even though they’re trying to impeach the son of a b***h’
Trump says U.S. has a good president ‘even though they’re trying to impeach the son of a b***h’

Trump was found to have abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the announcement of investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter‘s work on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, and into unsubstantiated claims that the country interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Lawmakers said Trump impeded their investigation by refusing to hand over important documents, and by ordering officials called to testify not to comply with lawful subpoenas.

Trump has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly called the impeachment process a “sham” and a “hoax.”

Rules of engagement

Now that the impeachment process has moved on to the Senate, a strict set of rules will be applied to help to govern the proceedings.

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One of the main rules is that Senators must refrain from talking during the trial.

According to historic Senate rules, Senators must “keep silent, on pain of imprisonment,” meaning no talking or debate is permitted in the chamber during the trial.

In a set of decorum guidelines released earlier this week, Senators were reminded that they would have the opportunity for “limited speech,” and that members should “refrain from speaking to neighbouring Senators while the case is being presented.”

Ex-Giulani associate contradicts Trump on Ukraine scandal
Ex-Giulani associate contradicts Trump on Ukraine scandal

Senators are also prohibited from using cell phones or other electronic devices. According to the guidelines, all electronic devices must be left outside of the chamber in the cloakroom.

As well, Senators have been told to only bring reading material that pertains “to the matter before the Senate” to the chamber.

The prosecutors

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the seven members that will act as House managers and will prosecute the case against Trump in the proceedings.

Reps. Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow, Sylvia Garcia and Zoe Lofgren will make the case that Trump should be removed from office due to his misconduct.

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The defence team

Meanwhile, Trump has been assembling his own legal team.

Leading the group is White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow.

READ MORE: Trump adds 2 members to legal team, including former Clinton investigator

Other members of Trump’s defence team include Ken Starr, the prosecutor whose investigation two decades ago resulted in the impeachment of Bill Clinton and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general; Jane Raskin who was part of the president’s legal team during Robert Mueller’s investigation; Robert Ray, who was part of the Whitewater investigation of the Clintons; and Eric D. Herschmann of the Kasowitz Benson Torres legal firm, which has represented Trump in numerous cases over the last 15 years, have also been named to the team.

Chief Justice Roberts

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, 64, will preside over the trial.

READ MORE: A look at Chief Justice Roberts, who will preside over Trump’s impeachment trial

His main role is to keep the process on track. He could, however, be asked to rule on whether certain witnesses should be called to testify. If a majority in the Senate disagrees with a ruling he makes, senators can vote to overturn his decision.

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When will it begin?

The trial is set to begin at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and as designated by Senate rules, will run six days per week — Monday to Saturday — until it is finished.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will kick-off the proceedings by introducing a resolution, to set the ground rules of the trial.

McConnell previously said the rules will be structured around those followed during the impeachment trial of Clinton in 1999.

READ MORE: Trump’s impeachment trial officially underway in U.S. Senate

All of the parameters of the trial, including speaking time and potential witnesses, will be laid out during this time.

Once the resolution has been adopted, opening arguments will begin. This is expected to last a number of days.

After opening arguments have been delivered, Senators will be given the opportunity to submit questions to both sides.

Witnesses?

Democrats are expected to continue their push to hear from witnesses during the Senate trial.

If McConnell’s resolution on initial trial rules is adopted, as expected, Senators would likely vote sometime after the trial has started on whether to introduce witness testimony sought by the Democrats.

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Democrats are seeking testimony from White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, his senior adviser Robert Blair, former national security adviser John Bolton and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey.

Trump on photograph of him with Lev Parnas: ‘I take thousands of pictures’
Trump on photograph of him with Lev Parnas: ‘I take thousands of pictures’

McConnell, however, has lambasted the Democrats over their calls for witnesses, saying it is a “fishing expedition.”

“If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and jury to reopen the investigation,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

READ MORE: John Bolton willing to testify in Senate impeachment trial if subpoenaed

Just last week, though, Bolton said he was “prepared to testify” if subpoenaed by the Senate.

“If the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” he said.

Bolton did not testify before the House.

The vote

At the end of the trial, the Senate will hold a vote on whether or not to convict and remove Trump from office.

A two-thirds vote is needed in order for Trump to be ousted.

The Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the 100-seat Senate chamber, meaning all Democrats, both Independents and 20 Republicans in the Senate would need to vote to convict and remove Trump— something experts say is very unlikely.

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Mitch McConnell sees Senate impeachment trial starting in days
Mitch McConnell sees Senate impeachment trial starting in days

It is widely expected that Trump will be acquitted by his fellow Republicans, and will remain in office, eligible for re-election.

If two-thirds of the Senate did vote to remove Trump, Vice President Mike Pence would take over the office until the November election.

—With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source: Global News

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