WASHINGTON - Special counsel Jack Smith's team obtained a search warrant in January for records related to former President Donald Trump's Twitter account, and a judge levied a $350,000 fine on the company for a delay in complying, according to court documents released Wednesday.
The details were included in a decision from the federal appeals court in Washington rejecting Twitter's claim that it should not have been held in contempt or sanctioned.
X, the San Francisco-based platform formerly known as Twitter, sent an automated reply to a request for comment, saying it would respond soon.
The filing says prosecutors got the search warrant directing Twitter to produce information on Trump's account after a court "found probable cause to search the Twitter account for evidence of criminal offenses." The government also obtained a nondisclosure agreement prohibiting Twitter from disclosing the search warrant, the filing says.
A tweet from former President Donald Trump is displayed during the third hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 16, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by
The court found that disclosing the warrant could risk that Trump would "would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation" by giving him "an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior," the filing says.
Twitter objected to the nondisclosure agreement, saying four days after the compliance deadline that it would not produce any of the account information, according to the ruling. The judges write that Twitter "did not question the validity of the search warrant" but argued that the nondisclosure agreement was a violation of the First Amendment and wanted the court to assess the legality of the agreement before it handed any information over.
Former President Donald Trump speaks as the keynote speaker at the 56th Annual Silver Elephant Dinner hosted by the South Carolina Republican Party on August 5, 2023 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)
Smith has charged Trump, in an indictment unsealed last week, with conspiring to subvert the will of voters and cling to power after he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump, a Republican, has pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of Congress' certification of Biden's win.
Trump says he is innocent and has portrayed the investigation as political motivated. His legal team has indicated it will argue that Trump was relying on the advice of lawyers around him in 2020 and had the right to challenge an election he believed was rigged.
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment on the warrant or what it sought.