Special counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account back in January and requested Twitter not disclose this information to Trump, newly unsealed court documents show.
On Jan. 17, prosecutors applied for, and received, a search warrant directing Twitter, a company now known as X, to produce data and records related to the @realDonaldTrump account, documents from the U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit show.
This warrant was tied to the special counsel's investigation into Trump and his involvement in attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Trump is now facing four criminal charges related to this investigation. He’s pleaded not guilty.
Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter just days after the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol. His account was reinstated on X, but he has not tweeted since Jan. 8, 2021, and instead uses his Truth Social platform.
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The warrant was served along with an order that prohibited Twitter from notifying anyone about the existence or contents of the warrant.
Prosecutors shared fears with the court that if Trump knew about the warrant that he would jeopardize the investigation by giving him “an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior [or] notify confederates.”
The social media company subsequently fought the Justice Department on this warrant request as well as its demand not to disclose this information to Trump or others, the court filings show.
In a since-rejected appeal, Twitter had argued that the nondisclosure order violated the First Amendment and the Stored Communications Act.
Twitter did eventually comply with the warrant, but failed to produce all of the requested information until three days after a court-ordered deadline, placing the company in contempt and was ordered to pay a $350,000 fine for the delay.
Trump called the revelation of this search warrant a “major ‘hit’ on my civil rights” on his Truth Social account.
A representative for the Justice Department declined to comment.
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