Special Counsel obtains search warrant for Trump’s Twitter account

August 9, 2023

A newly-unsealed court filing revealed Wednesday that prosecutors in the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith had obtained a search warrant for former President Trump’s Twitter account.

The account was initially suspended two days after the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol “due to risk of further incitement of violence,” according then-Twitter moderators. However, in November 2022 new owner Elon Musk revoked the permanent ban against the former President.

Prosecutors in the special counsel’s office who are investigating criminal wronging surrounding the 2020 Presidential election and the related January 6 insurrection had initially sought the warrant for Trump’s Twitter account in January of this year. According to the unsealed court filing, dated May 19, Twitter has released the account to the feds. 

Twitter and the special counsel’s office have spent the several months since litigating whether Trump should be told about the search warrant. That dispute became public on Wednesday when the DC Circuit Court of Appeals unsealed a decision upholding a district court ruling in favor of prohibiting Twitter from telling Trump.

According to the Circuit court’s opinion, 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.”

Legal experts have surmised that prosecutors will be looking “behind” the public tweets—to IP addresses and direct messages—to determine whether certain tweets came from Trump’s device or someone else’s, for example, the December 19, 2020 tweet which invited supporters to come to the Washington on January 6 because it “will be wild.”

Last week’s indictment, to which Trump pleaded not guilty to four criminal counts surrounding attempts to overturn the 2020 Presidential election, suggests that it was Trump and not any surrogate or aide who issued the “wild” tweet and those attacking then-Vice President Pence for refusing to block certification of the election.  

Trump’s attorneys and special counsel prosecutors are set to attend a hearing Friday to decide what evidence can be used and shared in the case. U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan scheduled that hearing after Trump attorneys contested, on First Amendment grounds, the prosecution’s request for a protective order to prevent Trump from making sensitive and confidential evidence public. 

That protective order request was sparked by a posting by Trump on his Truth Social website—which he launched after being suspended from Twitter—in which he asserted the day after his arraignment, in all caps, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”

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