Musk’s legal team is led by Alex Spiro, a former prosecutor based in New York who has represented rapper Jay-Z, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and several NBA players, including ex-Knick Charles Oakley. Spiro didn’t respond to a request for comment, with a spokesman saying the lawyer was “incommunicado.”

But in documents filed on Monday, Musk’s lawyers previewed their arguments, saying Unsworth asked for it.

“Mr. Unsworth invited or otherwise induced Mr. Musk’s allegedly defamatory tweets by airing a baseless accusation on an international CNN news broadcast accusing Mr. Musk of engaging in a PR stunt, alleging that Mr. Musk did not care about the lives of the trapped Thai children, and telling Mr. Musk to stick his submarine where it hurts,” the lawyers wrote.

“Mr. Unsworth’s criticism and insult invited a response from Mr. Musk,” they said.

Though it’s unusual for high-profile defamation cases to go to trial, Musk isn’t a typical defendant.

When cases don’t settle before trial, it usually means that the parties are too far apart on the amount of money that would make the case go away, or there’s a lot of emotion involved, said Sean Andrade, a litigator with Andrade Gonzalez LLP in Los Angeles, who isn’t involved in the Musk trial.

Unsworth may have a better than 50-50 chance of winning since there are tweets to show what Musk said, according to Andrade. But it may be harder to prove actual damages because Unsworth became more of a celebrity after the tweets, he said.

“He’s a little more favored to win, but the question is win what?” said Andrade.

The case won’t affect Tesla’s electric cars or SpaceX’s rocket launch business. But the public testimony will provide a window into Musk’s state of mind and how he runs his companies.

Musk’s witness list includes David Arnold, a former communications director at Tesla; Jared Birchall, who works for Musk’s family office; and Steve Davis, the president of Boring Co., Musk’s tunneling startup.