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Uber's headquarters in San Francisco. Eric Risberg / AP

A San Francisco judge (again) delayed Waymo's upcoming trial against Uber after a mysterious letter from a former employee of the ride-hailing company surfaced. The judge granted Waymo's request for more time to prepare for the trial, since the letter had been withheld by Uber.

Why it matters: The letter was uncovered last week, when the Department of Justice contacted the presiding judge about its existence. Though the letter's contents aren't publicly available, and even Waymo's lawyers have only seen a redacted version of it, it appears to contain important information about Uber's acquisition of Otto Trucking. It also appears to explain why the thousands of proprietary files Waymo says its former employee took with him never seemed to have made it onto Uber's computers.

What we know about the letter:

  • It was sent by a lawyer for then-Uber risk analyst Richard Jacobs on May 7, 2017 to then-Uber assistant general counsel Angela Padilla.
  • Uber never mentioned the letter's existence to Waymo or the court, though Waymo says it should have because it pertains to several document requests it made as part of the discovery process.
  • The letter appears to contain information about sensor-related work done by Anthony Levandowski, the former Waymo employee whose startup Uber acquired.
  • Also, "the Jacobs Letter indicates that there may be a very good reason why the '14,000 files in question' were supposedly not found on Uber's servers," in reference to the Waymo documents Levandowski allegedly took.
  • Court documents (which are heavily redacted) hint that the letter shows that Uber hid or destroyed evidence relevant to this lawsuit, and did the same as part of its acquisition of Levandowski's company last year.
  • Based on the letter, Waymo says it now needs to interview several Uber employees and agents, including former CEO Travis Kalanick and former security chief Joe Sullivan.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.