Special counsel Jack Smith’s office obtained a search warrant this year to gain access to Twitter communications, including direct messages, linked to former President Donald Trump's account, new details about the warrant revealed Tuesday.
According to a newly unsealed copy of the warrant, prosecutors sought “all content, records, and other information relating to communications sent from or received" from October 2020 to January 2021 on Trump's account on Twitter, the social media website that has since been renamed X.
The warrant specifically requested contents of "all tweets created, drafted, favorited/liked, or retweeted” by Trump's account, including deleted tweets, as well as all associated multimedia, metadata and logs.
The warrant also asked for details about direct messages, searches and other information related to interactions between Trump's account and other Twitter users, and it more broadly sought business records and location data related to the account.
A federal appeals court ruling made public last week revealed that Smith’s office executed a search warrant for “evidence of criminal offenses” on Trump’s Twitter account in January, but the court documents did not reveal specifically what prosecutors were looking for.
In a pair of court transcripts of hearings in Washington in February before Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell that were also unsealed Tuesday, prosecutors Thomas Windom and Gregory Bernstein criticized Twitter's refusal at the time to produce certain information.
“In this case, we’re asking for Twitter to simply comply with the unambiguous order that this order issued to produce these records; ‘these records’ being communications and materials related to the former President, that there is no legal bar to us possessing it in the first place,” Bernstein said.
A court order found Twitter in contempt of court for not immediately complying and sanctioned the company $350,000.
The special counsel's indictment accused Trump of using “unlawful means” to remain in power after he was defeated in the 2020 election and repeatedly referred to his tweets, including those rallying his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, and demanding that Vice President Mike Pence reject certified Electoral College votes in some states.
Trump has pleaded not guilty.