Tesla asked law firm to fire attorney who worked on Elon Musk probe at SEC, report says

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Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveils a new all-wheel-drive version of the Model S car in Hawthorne, California October 9, 2014.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

A lawyer for Tesla asked a law firm to fire one its attorneys or risk losing its work for the electric automaker led by Elon Musk, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The lawyer that Tesla wanted Cooley LLC to fire previously worked at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The attorney interviewed Musk in the agency’s probe into the Tesla CEO’s 2018 claim that he obtained funding to take Tesla private, according to the publication. The investigation led to a settlement under which Musk agreed to pay a $20 million fine and step down as Tesla chairman.

Tesla’s lawyer late last year asked Cooley to fire the attorney who worked on the SEC investigation, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The firm did not remove the associate.

Tesla has moved to replace Cooley or hire additional lawyers on several cases since December, according to the Journal.

Musk’s rocket company SpaceX has also stopped working with the law firm on regulatory issues, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Tesla, SpaceX and Cooley did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests to comment.

Read the full Journal report here.

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