Elizabeth Holmes testifies in her own trial

By Sara Ashley O'Brien and Rishi Iyengar, CNN

Updated 10:09 p.m. ET, November 30, 2021
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7:26 p.m. ET, November 30, 2021

Holmes trial recesses for the week, defense expects to rest its case soon after her testimony

From CNN Business' Sara Ashley O'Brien

Court has recessed for a long weekend, with the trial slated to resume next Tuesday, December 7, at 9am local time.

Holmes will be back on the stand to continue her cross examination. After the jury was excused, the prosecution indicated that it expects Holmes' testimony to wrap as soon as Tuesday. Holmes’ defense team indicated its case likely "will not last the balance of next week after Ms. Holmes’ testimony.” 

Next week will be the fourteenth week of the trial.

10:09 p.m. ET, November 30, 2021

Holmes testifies she made changes to reports with pharmaceutical company logos

From CNN Business' Sara Ashley O'Brien

Elizabeth Holmes did more than just add logos of pharmaceutical companies to reports prepared by Theranos, giving the appearance the companies backed their findings: She also tweaked language on the reports.

After Holmes made the striking admission during her direct testimony that she herself added Pfizer and Schering-Plough logos to reports prepared by the company, prosecutor Robert Leach showed jurors other changes made to reports before being sent to stakeholders. On the Pfizer report, changes included removing the words “prepared for Dr. Aidan Power” of Pfizer, which would have given a clearer indication that the report originated from Theranos. Language was also added to the top of the Schering-Plough report, including a typo. Holmes testified it was likely her who added the language. 

Numerous investors and business partners have testified that they believed reports Theranos sent purporting to validate its technology had been prepared by the pharmaceutical companies and indicated endorsement.

In addition, Leach asked Holmes whether she added GlaxoSmithKline’s logo to a report about a study done with the pharmaceutical company before sending it to Walgreens. “I assume so,” Holmes testified. Did she have permission, Leach asked. “I don’t know,” she responded.

Unlike Pfizer and Schering-Plough, GlaxoSmithKline had provided a document with some of its views on the study done with Theranos but did not give permission to use its logo. Additionally, Leach pointed out that some language was deleted, including that the "finger prick/blood draw procedure was difficult." Asked if Holmes removed this language herself, she testified: "I don't know."

7:14 p.m. ET, November 30, 2021

Prosecution has Holmes read intimate texts between her and Balwani

From CNN Business' Sara Ashley O'Brien

Elizabeth Holmes reacting during cross examination at the federal court in San Jose, California, on Tuesday November 30, as she was asked to read texts between her and former Theranos COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani.
Elizabeth Holmes reacting during cross examination at the federal court in San Jose, California, on Tuesday November 30, as she was asked to read texts between her and former Theranos COO Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani. (Sketch by Vicki Behringer)

Throughout the criminal trial of Elizabeth Holmes, jurors have heard texts between Holmes and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani read aloud in the courtroom. But the texts took on a different air Tuesday when Holmes herself read them a day after alleging in testimony that their relationship had been abusive.

In her testimony Monday, Holmes said Balwani, who served as the company’s COO for a time and who is facing the same criminal fraud charges in a separate trial next year, sexually and psychologically abused her throughout their decade-long relationship.

During the government’s cross examination of Holmes, which began Tuesday, prosecutor Robert Leach had Holmes read aloud texts messages. Holmes at times grew emotional on the stand when reciting some of the more loving messages shared between them.

”U r God’s tigress and warrior. You are extraordinary,” one 2015 text from Balwani read. “Coming from my tiger means the whole universe to me,” Holmes replied.

In the texts, the two also strategize about the business, and at times Balwani raises concerns about everything from overexposure in the media to getting more tests approved for its finger stick blood tests.

“Worried about over exposure without solid substance which is lacking right now,” he said in a May 2015 text. “We must hit our volume goals now,” he said a month earlier, adding that it had to be “a matter of life and death.”

In questioning Holmes about the texts in the context of her allegations about the relationship, the prosecution has to carefully walk the line of establishing Holmes as in control and discrediting her experience as an alleged survivor of intimate partner abuse.

According to Eugene Soltes, a professor at Harvard Business School, jurors are likely interpreting the texts in very different ways. “Inevitably, there’s at least someone that probably feels uncomfortable. It is one thing seeing pieces about the business,” he told CNN Business in a conversation this fall about the role texts may play in the trial. Soltes noted that jurors may be asking themselves, “‘How relevant is the relationship?’ To different people, that’s either very relevant or very invasive.”

Legal experts say there are limitations to what texts can actually show about a relationship, even without the complications of abuse allegations.

“They can be a mixed bag,” Miriam Baer, a professor at Brooklyn Law School told CNN Business in a conversation this fall. “On one hand, they can be very powerful,” allowing jurors to get a look at what Holmes is thinking and saying at the time of the alleged fraud. On the other hand, she said, texts don't give the full picture. “They can be taken out of context.”

6:19 p.m. ET, November 30, 2021

Prosecution questions Elizabeth Holmes on efforts to suppress Theranos whistleblowers

From CNN Business' Sara Ashley O'Brien

Tyler Shultz (left, in 2019), Elizabeth Holmes (center, in 2021), Erika Cheung (right, in 2019).
Tyler Shultz (left, in 2019), Elizabeth Holmes (center, in 2021), Erika Cheung (right, in 2019). (Ethan Swope/Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Holmes was pressed by prosecutor Robert Leach about the lengths that she and her company went to try to suppress whistleblowers ahead of the Wall Street Journal’s damning expose on Theranos.

Holmes acknowledged that she hired Boies Schiller, the law firm of high-powered attorney David Boies, to serve paperwork to former staffers Erika Cheung and Tyler Shultz after learning they were talking to Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou. Holmes maintained that she was concerned about protecting trade secrets and stopped short of conceding that she, or the company, had retaliated against either.

Leach noted the company spent roughly $150,000 on two private investigation firms to “aid in its efforts against Cheung.” Holmes testified: “I’m not sure.” Leach attempted to refresh her memory with documentation, but Holmes said it didn’t refresh her recollection.

Cheung, who testified earlier in the trial, was a former lab worker for Theranos who raised concerns about the company’s lab practices that were dismissed internally. During the defense’s cross-examination of Cheung, Holmes’ attorney attempted to highlight her lack of experience and qualifications as a recent college graduate whose first job was with the startup.

Holmes acknowledged on the stand Tuesday that she “sure as hell” wished Cheung had been treated differently, and that the company had listened to her concerns.

Cheung testified that she had a close relationship with Shultz, who attempted to raise concerns to Holmes, as well as to his grandfather, the former Secretary of State George Shultz, who sat on the company’s board and who frequently spoke with Holmes. (Tyler Shultz had been listed as a possible government witness but wasn’t called to testify.)

Holmes confirmed she knew that Boies Schiller lawyers showed up at George Shultz’s home in an attempt to get the younger Shultz to sign paperwork. Holmes also acknowledged that she was aware Theranos caused “significant angst” in the relationship between grandfather and grandson.

“I couldn’t say more strongly, the way we handled the Wall Street Journal process was a disaster," she said. "We totally messed it up.”

1:25 p.m. ET, November 30, 2021

Cross-examination begins with questions on Wall Street Journal investigation

From CNN Business' Rishi Iyengar

Federal prosecutor Robert Leach began his questioning of Elizabeth Holmes on Tuesday by asking about the Wall Street Journal's 2015 investigation that raised questions about Theranos' testing abilities.

Leach referenced Holmes' previous testimony that the company's response to learning about the Journal investigation was "too aggressive." Holmes acknowledged that previous statement, but said the company "wanted to make sure our trade secrets weren't disclosed."

Holmes denied that she and former Theranos COO, Ramesh Balwani, tried to obstruct Journal reporter John Carreyrou's reporting and influence his visit to a Theranos wellness center, but said they were "very worried" about his story.

Holmes reiterated her regret for how Theranos reacted to the story, including her treatment of one of the company's whistleblowers, Erika Cheung. "I sure has hell wish we'd treated her differently," Holmes said of Cheung, later adding: "I think I mishandled the entire process of the Wall Street Journal reporting."

At another point in her testimony, Holmes said: "I couldn’t say more strongly: the way we handled the Wall Street Journal process was a disaster. We totally messed it up."

12:36 p.m. ET, November 30, 2021

The government gets its chance to question Elizabeth Holmes

From CNN Business' Rishi Iyengar

Elizabeth Holmes arriving for court at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on November 22, 2021 in San Jose, California. 
Elizabeth Holmes arriving for court at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on November 22, 2021 in San Jose, California.  (Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images)

After months of mounting its case against Elizabeth Holmes, the government will finally get a chance to put its allegations directly to her as it is set to begin its cross-examination on Tuesday.

The cross-examination comes after an emotional testimony from Holmes on Monday. Holmes testified that she had been raped while at Stanford University and later suffered emotional and sexual abuse by her ex-boyfriend and former Theranos COO, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. (Balwani’s attorneys have previously denied those allegations.)

In her prior testimony on the witness stand, Holmes had admitted to some of the prosecution's most damning allegations while offering up alternative explanations. She attempted to sow doubt that she had any intention to deceive — a key part of what federal prosecutors are seeking to prove.

Holmes and Balwani were indicted on the same federal fraud charges over allegations that they knowingly misled investors, doctors and patients about Theranos' blood testing capabilities in order to take their money. Both have pleaded not guilty and face up to 20 years in prison. (Balwani's trial is slated to begin early next year.)

Over the course of 11 weeks, federal prosecutors called 29 witnesses to the stand, including scientists, doctors, retail executives, former employees and even a former Defense Secretary. Through them, the government attempted to unravel the many layers of the alleged deception that led investors and patients to believe Theranos' false promises that it could accurately, reliably and efficiently conduct a range of tests using just a few drops of blood.

Multiple high-profile witnesses testified about Holmes' charisma and, according to the former CEO of Safeway, her unusually hands-on role "negotiating completely on her own." Investors and retail executives testified that they were kept in the dark about the company's true capabilities. And former employees testified that they alerted Holmes directly to the lab's issues, to little effect.

As Stanford Law School professor Robert Weisberg previously noted to CNN Business, anything Holmes testifies about could potentially be impeached by what she's said and written over the years.

Miriam Baer, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School, noted that, "if she appears to evade questions, she may inadvertently strengthen the government's narrative."

12:03 p.m. ET, November 30, 2021

Text messages offer a glimpse into the relationship between Holmes and Balwani

From CNN Business' Rishi Iyengar

Elizabeth Holmes testified on Monday that Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, her ex-boyfriend and former Theranos COO, would berate her for her “mediocrity” and try to control how much she worked, slept and even what she ate. Holmes also said he “would force me to have sex with him when I didn't want to."

In court filings unsealed ahead of the trial, Holmes' legal team had signaled that the former Theranos CEO was likely to defend herself by claiming she was the victim of a decade-long abusive relationship with Balwani. Balwani's attorneys have denied those allegations.

As part of her testimony Monday, text messages were presented from February 2015, which offered a glimpse into their relationship.

“I'm sorry I wasn't stronger for you this morning,” she wrote. “That is my responsibility and my role. I will never let that happen again."

Balwani responded that he was “strong enough for me and u and then some. I don’t need you to be strong for me.”

Holmes testified that the exchange took place after one of the “incidents” between the couple, and that she thought her role was to calm him when he was angry.

"My job is to love you when you’re stressed,” she wrote in a subsequent text.

Balwani responded: “I know.”

7:27 p.m. ET, November 29, 2021

Holmes' team concludes its direct examination of the failed entrepreneur

From CNN Business' Rishi Iyengar

At the end of her fourth day on the stand, Elizabeth Holmes' direct examination is done.

In her testimony on Monday, a visibly emotional Holmes revealed that she dropped out of Stanford at age 19 because she was raped, and detailed alleged sexual and verbal abuse by her ex-boyfriend and Theranos' former COO Sunny Balwani.

In the last hour, however, Holmes' attorney Kevin Downey switched gears to the technical details of Theranos machines and their testing abilities, introducing multiple articles in scientific journals on the company's technology and documents that described in detail how they worked.

Downey concluded by asking Holmes about some high-profile investors and the "vision" she sold them for Theranos' future, with Holmes saying her goal was to improve access to testing and medical data to catch diseases earlier and treat them more effectively.

When asked why she never sold her 50% stake in Theranos — valued at one point at $4.5 billion — despite board members and investors urging her to, Holmes said she "didn't want to."

"I believed in the company and wanted to put everything I had into it," she added.

In response to a final question from Downey, Holmes confirmed that those shares are now worth nothing.

Prosecutors are expected to begin their cross examination of Holmes shortly after 9 a.m. PT/noon ET on Tuesday.

6:57 p.m. ET, November 29, 2021

Holmes says ex-boyfriend, former Theranos COO "wasn't who I thought he was"

From CNN Business' Sara Ashley O'Brien

Former Theranos COO Ramesh Balwani appears in federal court for a status hearing on July 17, 2019 in San Jose, California.
Former Theranos COO Ramesh Balwani appears in federal court for a status hearing on July 17, 2019 in San Jose, California. ( Kimberly White/Getty Images/FILE)

Holmes testified extensively about how Balwani, who faces the same charges as Holmes and has pleaded not guilty, shaped her business acumen — and how she ultimately lost faith in him.

"He had taught me everything that I thought I knew about business sand I thought he was the best business person that I knew," she said. "I think that I didn’t question him in the way that I otherwise would have.”

However, she said that view changed following the results of the 2015 inspection by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that would end with the license of its California blood-testing facility being revoked and Holmes being banned from running a lab for two years.

Balwani oversaw the lab and Holmes testified that she'd thought Theranos had one of the best labs in the world prior to that.

"He wasn’t who I thought he was," she said. 

Balwani would leave the company in May 2016. Holmes was living with him at the time but didn't continue her personal relationship with him after he left Theranos. Holmes testified her brother helped her move out while Balwani was in Thailand. The two had a personal relationship for 13 years and a professional one for seven.

After detailing Balwani's influence, Holmes' attorney asked her if Balwani forced her to make statements to investors, retailers, board directors and journalists that jurors have heard about in the course of this case. Holmes testifies no to all.

Her attorney followed up to ask what impact, if any, did Balwani have on your work at Theranos in your view? "I don't know. He impacted everything about who i was and I don't fully understand that."