This is insane and an absolute about of power!
Special Counsel Jack Smith has issued a subpoena and successfully obtained a search warrant related to the former President Trump’s account on X formerly known as Twitter, as per court documents revealed on Wednesday.
According to The Hill, the case, which was concluded in July, directed X (formerly known as Twitter) to provide the documents requested by Smith. Additionally, the company was fined $350,000 due to a three-day delay in complying with a court order to produce the records.
The Justice Department (DOJ), which had initially sought these records in January, also secured a nondisclosure order preventing X from disclosing the existence or contents of the search warrant to anyone, including Trump himself.
According to the filed documents, a protracted legal battle unfolded between X and the special counsel’s office over the acquisition of information linked to Trump’s account. An appeals court upheld a previous lower court decision, stating, “The district court found that there were ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that revealing 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.'”
The lower court ruling from March established probable cause to search Trump’s Twitter account “for evidence of criminal offenses.”
The specifics of the DOJ’s warrant and subpoena are not detailed in the ruling.
Responding on social media, Trump criticized the action, accusing the DOJ of infringing on his civil rights by keeping him unaware of this significant development.
While the Justice Department routinely issues subpoenas to communication and technology companies, the use of gag orders – which prevent these companies from informing the subject of the search – has been contentious due to First Amendment concerns.
The appeals court sided with Smith’s team, determining that the 180-day silence period sought by the DOJ was reasonable given the sensitive nature of the investigation into the events of January 6 and Trump’s direct involvement.
While Twitter argued this was a violation of the First Amendment, the court clarified that the company could still discuss the investigation in other ways.
The court rejected alternative suggestions for Twitter, including the argument that the information was already known to Trump. It emphasized that the purpose of the nondisclosure order was to prevent Trump from becoming aware of the warrant’s existence.
Gag orders have been permitted in the past when there are concerns about tampering with evidence, intimidation of potential witnesses, or other risks to an ongoing investigation.
The court affirmed the government’s interests as compelling, given that disclosure of the warrant could jeopardize the criminal investigation.
In a footnote, the court mentioned that the lower court also believed there was reason to suspect that the former President might attempt to evade prosecution.
The court’s decision also highlighted the challenges Twitter faced in conveying the subpoena during a tumultuous period for the company, noting that a legal requests website was nonfunctional.
The Justice Department had faced criticism early in the Biden administration for continuing to seek gag orders on subpoenas for the communications of multiple journalists, actions that had originated under the Trump administration. The DOJ has since altered its policy to restrict such actions involving members of the media, but the practice of subpoenaing journalists has not been entirely prohibited.