The Department of Justice (DOJ) told a federal appeals court that permitting disclosure of their warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account could “precipitate violence,” according to a court document unsealed on Friday.
Special Counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant for Trump’s Twitter account in January, along with a nondisclosure order that prevented Twitter from notifying the former president about the warrant. Twitter fought the order on First Amendment grounds, but prosecutors argued that siding with Twitter would jeopardize the investigation and potentially “precipitate violence as occurred following the public disclosure of the search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago,” according to brief the government filed in Twitter’s appeal of order.
The district court ultimately issued the order after finding reason to believe Trump “presents a significant risk of tampering with evidence, seeking to influence or intimidate potential witnesses, and ‘otherwise seriously jeopardizing’ the Government’s ongoing investigations,” the unsealed order also explains.
“These are not hypothetical considerations in this case,” prosecutors wrote. “Following his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, the former President propagated false claims of fraud (including swearing to false allegations in a federal court filing), pressured state and federal officials to violate their legal duties, and retaliated against those who did not comply with his demands, culminating in violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.”
District Court Judge Beryl Howell questioned during a February hearing whether Twitter was motivated to fight the order “because the CEO wants to cozy up with the former President,” according to the transcript.
The warrant required Twitter to release information that included the account’s search history, location data and IP addresses used to log into the account, along with draft tweets, direct messages and any information “relating to all other interactions” with other users between October 2020 to January 2021.
Federal law enforcement called for increased security around FBI buildings following the Mar-a-Lago search, accordingto emails obtained in September 2022 by Bloomberg.
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