Some explosive revelations have surfaced in the Justice Department’s effort to prosecute former President Donald Trump that could further indicate that the case against him is motivated by political concerns. In January, special counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant for records related to the former president’s Twitter account.
This was part of a probe into Trump’s actions in relation to the 2020 presidential elections and the riot that occurred at the U.S. Capitol Building, on Jan. 6, 2021. The warrant required Twitter to hand over an enormous amount of data to the federal government.
The search warrant pages are redacted in full on eight of them.
Smith demands information about virtually every aspect of Trump’s Twitter account. This includes “all advertising data… and ad topics preferences,” the IP addresses of all accounts, Trump’s privacy settings, and account settings. Smith also wants to know the communications between the account and Twitter support, as well as all direct messages that were sent or received from October 2020 through January 2021.
The government also wanted to know about users who had interacted with Trump in the days leading up to the riots.
The warrant states that “All information on the ‘Connection’ or Notifications’ tab of the account including lists of Twitter users, who have favorited, retweeted, or favorited tweets from the account as well as tweets containing the username associated with it (i.e. The warrant specifies “mentions” and “replies “),”.
The DOJ demanded a wide range of information regarding Trump’s account on Twitter and also issued a nondisclosure that prohibited the company from informing the former president about its search.
Elon Musk was the leader of the company at the time. The DOJ tried to get the information, but the company refused, refusing to divulge any details.
Twitter’s appeal to the DOJ failed, and Obama-appointed District Judge Beryl Howell fined the firm $350,000 for failing to comply with a deadline.
The appeals court upheld all of Howell’s decisions.
Trump’s frequent use of social media, particularly in the run-up to the 2020 elections and afterward, was the alleged reason for the warrant. Since he took office, the former president has been known for his controversial and polarizing tweets. The DOJ claimed that Trump’s Twitter information was crucial to the investigation of potential crimes. The DOJ is accusing him of conspiracy to defraud and obstruction of Congress’ certification for President Joe Biden’s victory.
In summary, Smith and the Justice Department required Twitter to provide information about Trump’s Twitter account. This included details of who had followed, retweeted, or interacted in any other way with the former President on the platform. They also prevented the company from informing Trump of the search.
The broad nature of the warrant is likely to fuel fears that the Justice Department has been weaponized against Trump. The government’s search for any evidence of a crime to pin on Trump, who faces multiple federal and state indictments, was evident.
House Republicans are investigating the issue. Many people in the United States have already expressed suspicion about the apparent politicization by the DOJ. This new development is likely to be seen as further evidence that political forces within the DOJ use the government to pursue Trump in order to influence the result of the 2024 elections.