Special Counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant earlier this year for records related to former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, while the Elon Musk-owned platform was fined $350,000 for delaying its compliance with a court order.
The incident was revealed on Wednesday in an unsealed federal appellate opinion (Read it here). The judges upheld a lower court’s sanction on the social media platform.
Twitter, now renamed X, was prohibited from disclosing the existence of the search warrant, even to Trump.
Twitter argued that the nondisclosure order was a violation of the First Amendment and the Stored Communications Act, and that the district court should have delayed the enforcement of the search warrant until those issues were resolved.
Trump pled not guilty last week to four conspiracy charges brought by Smith over his efforts to retain power after the 2020 presidential election. The indictment referred to a number of Trump’s tweets, including one he posted as the attack on the Capitol was unfolding on January 6. Posted at 2:24 p.m. that day, it read, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”
In the opinion, Judge Florence Pan wrote that in granting the warrant in January, “the district court found
probable cause to search the Twitter account for evidence of criminal offenses. Moreover, the district court found that there were ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that disclosing the warrant to former President Trump ‘would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation’ by giving him ‘an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior, [or] notify confederates.”
More to come.