(PresidentialWire.com)- Former defense secretary Jim Mattis became the first well-known name to testify in the high-profile fraud case against former biotech star Elizabeth Holmes.
At the trial on Wednesday, Mattis said he was captivated by Holmes’ promises through her company Theranos to provide blood testing technology. When he found out that her Silicon Valley startup company had fraud claims being thrown at them, he was completely stunned.
Mattis served on the board of Theranos from 2013 to 2016. The company is now defunct.
At trial in San Jose, California, Wednesday, Mattis said:
“I had been rather taken with the idea that with one drop of blood and remote capability, you could basically test for a broad array of problems.”
Holmes began her company Theranos at the age of 19 in 2003. The diagnostics firm promised that they would produce faster results than traditional labs, and at a much cheaper rate. The crux of what the company did was run a huge set of data analytics that needed only a few drops of blood to operate.
Mattis told the court that he was so interested in the possibilities of the company and its developments that he invested almost $85,000 in it. He served from 2017 to 2019 under the Trump administration.
He wasn’t the only well-known person to be involved with Theranos, either. He served on the board with Henry Kissinger. Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul, invested his own personal cash into the startup company as well.
The problem, as prosecutors are alleging, is the tests Theranos conducted never actually did what the company promised. As a result, Holmes is facing charges of fraud that could see her spend decades behind bars.
Mattis said he wanted to learn more about Theranos’ technology and was enthralled by the promise of rapid, simple blood diagnostics. He said in court:
“This was something so new, I was frankly amazed at what was possible based on what Miss Holmes said.”
He also told the court that Holmes herself was quite the convincing person. He described her:
“Sharp, articulate, committed. I was impressed by her. That didn’t take the place of having the device prove itself.”
Mattis said that Holmes asked him to join the company’s board to help advise on building the organization. He accepted the position, but started to become troubled by stories that were published in 2015 by the Wall Street Journal regarding the tests.
He commented on the situation:
“Initially, I just thought we had a problem where we presented things wrong, an aggressive reporter misrepresented what we were trying to do. There came a point where I didn’t know what to believe about Theranos anymore.”
Eventaully, Mattis said he stopped going to the company’s board meetings.
Holmes was drawing comparisons to Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. She was thought of as an up-and-coming visionary in the tech field. She had a net worth that was once estimated at $3.6 billion, Forbes magazine said.