The special counsel’s investigation into Donald Trump obtained a search warrant for the former president’s Twitter account. @realDonaldTrumpAccording to the newly unsealed court filing.
The search was so secret that Trump was barred from telling Twitter that a search warrant had been obtained for his account, and the company, now known as “X,” was fined $350,000 because it delayed producing records requested under the search warrant.
The search warrant requested special counsel Jack Smith’s “data and records” related to Trump’s account.
The special counsel’s office, which is now working on a criminal case against Trump in DC District Court related to his efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election, sought the warrant in January 2023.
Twitter eventually made records, According to the filingNow public on the US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Twitter and special counsel Jack Smith’s office have been litigating for months over whether Trump should have been told about the search warrant.
The controversy came to light Wednesday when the DC Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision upholding a district court ruling in favor of banning Twitter from telling Trump.
The district court, according to the DC Circuit’s opinion, found that “former President Trump had “reasonable grounds to believe” that disclosure of the warrant would “seriously prejudice the ongoing investigation.” [or] Notify the confederates.”
The district court concluded that the nondisclosure order was necessary because it “found reason to believe that the former president would ‘survive prosecution,'” a footnote says.
“However, the government later admitted that it had ‘included escape from prosecution as a pretext’ in its application,” the footnote said. “The district court did not rely on flight risk in its ultimate analysis.”
The site — renamed “X” during its legal dispute with prosecutors — did not object to producing the records requested by Smith, but argued that the ban on informing Trump about the search warrant violated the First Amendment and the Stored Communications Act. The law governs how third-party websites can be forced to turn over user records.
During the trial, the non-disclosure order was amended to allow Twitter to “inform the former president of the existence and contents of the warrant,” but require information about the case agent to be withheld from the investigation.
Prosecutors changed their stance to allow certain disclosures due to ‘additional information’ related to the former president’s investigations. [that became] shall be publicly available” after passing the non-disclosure order,” the judgment said.
This story has been updated with additional details.