(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Justice Department attorneys have released records related to their search warrant for Donald Trump’s Twitter account, revealing that prosecutors obtained a vast trove of data about the former President’s social media activity—including info on every account to like, follow or retweet him.
The heavily redacted search warrant was released Monday pursuant to a Nov. 17 judge’s order, which was made after a coalition of media groups filed an application in August for the warrant and other records to be made public.
From the looks of it, Twitter forked over massive amounts of information to the DOJ.
Indeed, Special Counsel Jack Smith sought, and apparently ultimately received, all users Trump followed, unfollowed, muted, unmuted, blocked, or unblocked—as well as all users who have followed, unfollowed, muted, unmuted, blocked or unblocked Trump.
Additionally, Smith demanded Twitter data on “all lists of Twitter users who have favorited or retweeted tweets posted by [Trump], as well as all tweets that include the username associated with the account (i.e., ‘mentions’ or ‘replies’).”
The DOJ’s warrant sought a slew of other data as well—including information on Trump’s geolocation, his private messages, search history and contact info. More absurdly, prosecutors apparently wanted to know his pronouns—as Headline USA reported in August, when court transcripts related to the Twitter-DOJ dispute were made public.
The release of the warrant follows Twitter opposing the search warrant as well as an accompanying gag order—arguing that the gag order violated the company’s First Amendment right to communicate with Trump, and that Trump may have legal standing to raise his executive-privilege rights to block the warrant.
Twitter was ultimately unsuccessful in its opposition to the DOJ, with Obama-appointed District Judge Beryl Howell also fining the company $350,000 in February for failing to meet a deadline for complying with the warrant.
An appeals court upheld all of Howell’s decisions.
“In sum, we affirm the district court’s rulings in all respects. The district court properly rejected Twitter’s First Amendment challenge to the nondisclosure order,” the appeals court said in a decision unsealed in August.
“Moreover, the district court acted within the bounds of its discretion to manage its docket when it declined to stay its enforcement of the warrant while the First Amendment claim was litigated,” the court added.
“Finally, the district court followed the appropriate procedures before finding Twitter in contempt of court—including giving Twitter an opportunity to be heard and a chance to purge its contempt to avoid sanctions. Under the circumstances, the court did not abuse its discretion when it ultimately held Twitter in contempt and imposed a $350,000 sanction.”
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.