Back in early August, Politico reported that Special Counsel Jack Smith had obtained a search warrant to look into the backend of Former President Donald Trump’s account on X, the social media account formerly known as Twitter.
The report revealed the existence of a previously secret legal battle in which the social media company resisted the warrant and was assessed a $350,000 fine, which was later upheld by an appeals court.
Twitter did ultimately grant the access. In addition, Trump was not told at the time about the warrant.
Little was revealed about this episode in the subsequent weeks, but a new report over the weekend revealed some information.
According to the New York Times, citing court papers unsealed late last week, the special counsel obtained 32 direct messages from Trump’s account. Those messages were only a tiny part of what Twitter turned over as a result of the warrant.
The papers unsealed last Friday revealed a few more things. According to the Times, prosecutors wanted to know if there existed “other accounts that Mr. Trump had been logging into from the same internet address he used for his Twitter account,” and if the former president had used “burner” accounts.
The documents, per the Times, were “particularly sharp in describing Mr. Trump’s repeated attempts to obstruct federal inquiries — an argument that prosecutors used in securing permission from a judge in Washington not to tell the former president for months that they had obtained the warrant for his account.”
Per CNN, prosecutors sought the evidence while stating that Trump “posed a risk of tampering with evidence.”
“This pattern of obstructive conduct amply supports the district court’s conclusion that the former President 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 filing said, per CNN.
This social media issue concerns the case against Trump in Washington, D.C., in which he was indicted for his post-election behavior.
The filings did not disclose who the private messages were written to. It had not been established previously that Trump was a user of Twitter’s direct messaging function, although it was reported earlier this year that the former president had taken up text messaging, after not communicating that way previously.
Trump was famously kicked off the platform then known as Twitter a few days after the January 6 riot, and in the final days of his presidency. He was reinstated to the platform in late 2022, shortly after it was purchased by Elon Musk, which meant that Trump’s years of tweets were once again viewable on the forum. But Trump has not returned to X, with the exception of a single post on August 24, when he posted his mugshot and a link to a fundraising appeal.
The former president has opted to maintain Truth Social, the social network he founded, as his primary spot for social media use, even as his audience on Twitter/X is much larger. He uses Truth Social to share polling results, videos, memes, and even shots at judges and prosecutors in his various legal cases.
Smith’s office, in fact, has sought a gag order against the former president, which would restrict Trump from making certain statements in relation to the federal case in Washington. Smith’s office cited the “established practice of issuing inflammatory public statements targeted at individuals or institutions that present an obstacle or challenge to him.”
Trump has pushed back, calling Smith a “deranged person” and accusing the prosecutor of wanting to “take away my right to speak freely and openly” in a recent speech.
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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