Jack Smith Wanted Details on Anyone Who ‘Favorited or Retweeted’ Trump Tweets

A newly released tranche of court documents shows the special counsel sought information on the former president’s Twitter account.
Jack Smith Wanted Details on Anyone Who ‘Favorited or Retweeted’ Trump Tweets
(L) Special counsel Jack Smith in Washington, on Aug. 1, 2023; and (R) former President Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Saul Loeb, Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Phillips
11/29/2023
Updated:
12/2/2023
0:00

Heavily redacted documents related to special counsel Jack Smith’s search warrant for information related to former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account showed that federal prosecutors wanted his search history, blocked users, mutes, and drafts of tweets, while also seeking information on users that interacted with the former president.

More than half of the pages related to the search warrant, released this week, were totally redacted. It means that the page appears as a black rectangle with no text.

The search warrant originally was sent to Twitter (now renamed X) before a court asked the social media firm to hand over information relating to the former president’s account, including IP addresses that were “used to create, login, and use the account.” It also was asked to hand over “advertising information, including advertising IDs, ad activity, and ad topic preferences,” the document stated.

“All information from the ‘Connect’ or ‘Notifications’ tab for the account, including all lists of Twitter users who have favorited or retweeted tweets posted by the account, as well as all tweets that include the username associated with the account (i.e. ’mentions’ or ’replies’),” the search warrant stated.

The warrant also sought President Trump’s Twitter search history, direct messages, and the “content of all tweets created, drafted, favorited/liked, or retweeted” between October 2020 and January 2021.

The warrant was sent to the social media company as well as a nondisclosure order, telling Twitter not to notify President Trump about the government’s search. In an appeal, Twitter’s lawyers attempted to fight back by saying Mr. Smith’s warrant was a violation of the First Amendment and Stored Communications Act, although the challenge failed.

Details of the warrant were first revealed earlier this year. However, it was released as part of a court order this week  after multiple news organizations petitioned the court to have the warrant released to the public in August 2023.

They argued at the time that “important records remain under seal, including the government’s application for the warrant and, importantly, the docket itself,” while they sought the warrant application materials, the probable cause affidavit, all sealed motions and orders, the docket listing of all filings, and all judicial records “to which there is no longer a compelling need for secrecy.”

The Department of Justice’s court filing earlier this year that had opposed Twitter’s attempt to tell President Trump of the search warrant was also released this week.

“For what appears to be the first time in its history, Twitter Inc. (‘Twitter’) has filed a motion to vacate or modify an order that it not disclose the existence of a search warrant,” Mr. Smith’s lawyers argued, adding that there is a reason to suspect that “notification to the former president, a sophisticated actor with an expansive platform, would result in a statutorily cognizable harm.”

It added that Twitter was “using the First Amendment as pretense” and “apparently wants the Court to place Twitter’s economic interests over the Court’s findings in the [non-disclosure order]—and the integrity of the Government’s ongoing investigation. The Court should deny Twitter’s motion.”

Other Details

The former president was charged by Mr. Smith in August over his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election. President Trump entered a not guilty plea and has maintained that the charges—along with the other case in Florida brought by the special counsel—is politically motivated.

During his presidency, the former president often used Twitter and often used it with devastating effect. His account was suspended in January 2021, but was reinstated in November 2022 after Elon Musk bought the company and renamed it X.

Even though his account reinstated, President Trump has instead opted to use his Truth Social platform. However, he made one post on X earlier this year after his mugshot was taken in an unrelated election case in Georgia, posting the image of his mugshot.

In a Truth Social post in August, the former president reacted to the Twitter warrant, saying that “deranged Jack Smith” tried to “break into my former Twitter account without informing me and, indeed, trying to completely hide this atrocity from me. What could he possibly find out that is not already known?”

Also in August, X was fined $350,000 for taking too long to hand over the data to the special counsel’s office.

In addition to indicting President Trump, Mr. Smith also filed a motion in September to place a gag order on the former president, which was ultimately approved by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an appointee of former President Barack Obama. A U.S. appeals court is currently considering Judge Chutkan’s order, while several members of the panel of judges signaled earlier this month that they might narrow its scope.

“There’s a balance that has to be undertaken here, and it’s a very difficult balance,” said Judge Patricia A. Millett during a hearing last month, according to The Washington Post. “We’ve got to use a careful scalpel here and not step into really sort of skewing the political arena, don’t we?”

The Epoch Times has contacted the Justice Department for comment on Wednesday.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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