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Special counsel Jack Smith’s team got access to former President Donald Trump’s draft tweets and direct messages on Twitter despite "momentous" pushback from the social media company, according to court papers unsealed Tuesday.
It remained unclear what kind of information the messages contained and who may have written them, the court documentsshowed.
The prosecutors, who have been investigating Trump for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, obtained the data despite a fierce attempt by Twitter lawyers in January and February to block the request.
The dispute centered on prosecutors’ demand that Twitter not notify Trump about the search warrant Smith’s team had obtained, and the social media company’s concern that prosecutors were seeking data that could be covered by executive privilege.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell held Twitter in contempt of court in February and fined the company $350,000 for missing a court-ordered deadline to comply with Smith’s search warrant.
Unsealed transcripts of the Feb. 7 proceedings in Howell’s courtroom showed that the judge excoriated Twitter for taking "extraordinary" and apparently unprecedented steps to give Trump advance notice about the search warrant.
"Is this to make Donald Trump feel like he is a particularly welcomed new renewed user of Twitter?" Howell asked Twitter’s lawyers.
"Twitter has no interest other than litigation of its constitutional rights," said attorney George Varghese of WilmerHale.
Howell asked the lawyers why Twitter was taking "momentous" steps to protect Trump.
"Is it because the new CEO wants to cozy up with the former president?" Howell asked.
The court documents showed the meticulous categories of data investigators sought from Trump’s account.
Politicolisted the data requested. It included:
- Accounts associated with @realdonaldtrump.
- Devices used to log into the @realdonaldtrump account.
- IP addresses used to log into the account between October 2020 and January 2021.
- Privacy settings and history.
- All tweets "created, drafted, favorited/liked, or retweeted," including any subsequently deleted, by @realdonaldtrump.
- All direct messages "sent from, received by, stored in draft form in, or otherwise associated with" @realdonaldtrump.
- All records of searches from October 2020 to January 2021.
- Location information for the user of @realdonaldtrump from October 2020 to January 2021.
Howell told Twitter’s lawyers that Trump likely was not conducting government business with senior aides via Twitter direct messages.
"You don’t even know the half about the very warrant you are coming in here to delay the execution of," Howell said.
Twitter, now known as X, shut down Trump’s account after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack.
Trump last week lashed outat "crooked Joe Biden’s" Department of Justice for secretly attacking his Twitter account and "making it a point not to let me know about this major ‘hit’ on my civil rights."
Charlie McCarthy ✉
Charlie McCarthy is a freelance writer/editor at Newsmax. He has nearly 40 years media experience that includes reporting, writing and editing for newspapers, wire services, magazines and websites.
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