Nikola Motors CEO and prolific Twitterist Trevor Milton stepped down from the EV startup yesterday amid accusations that he had misled investors. But it seems to have taken public accusations of sexual assault, from a family member, to finally push Milton into permanently deleting his most beloved social media presence.
Milton has a history with Twitter. Like earlier this year when he used it to demand a Bloomberg reporter be fired for reporting that Milton announced the Nikola One was fully functional at its unveiling — and it apparently was very much not. Or last week, when a short-seller issued a report alleging multiple frauds the company was apparently engaged in, which seem to now be leading to a very messy Securities and Exchange Commission probe. He issued defense after sweaty defense of his company against all of his “haters.” Milton also tweeted a semi-decent send-off when he stepped down Monday.
So it seems fitting that Twitter, Milton’s favorite platform to badly manage the public image of his startup and himself, would issue the final blow to his public persona as a poor man’s Elon Musk. Aubrey Smith posted this to Twitter yesterday:
In a series of tweets, Smith describes the event and Milton’s reaction afterward. The Wall Street Journal reached out to Aubrey Smith, who confirmed her account of the sexual assault:
When reached by phone, Ms. Smith confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that she had made the posts on Twitter and said she wanted to go public now as other questions about Mr. Milton’s conduct have surfaced. Another family member also confirmed Mr. Milton is her cousin.
The Wall Street Journal spoke with two people who said that Ms. Smith told them about the alleged incident months afterward. One person, as well as Ms. Smith, said that religious authorities were also made aware of the allegations but no charges were filed.
Through a spokesman, Mr. Milton denied the allegations. A Nikola spokeswoman declined to comment.
Now when you check out his profile, you don’t see a full-throated defense of an electric car company, you see this:
I think Milton himself said it best in a now-deleted tweet: “Cowards run, leaders stay and fight for integrity.”