The social media company handed over the ex-president’s data on foot of a search warrant linked to the election interference case
X, the social media network formerly known as Twitter, provided access to at least 32 of Donald Trump’s private messages as part of an investigation into the former US president’s alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to recently unsealed court filings.
Separate court documents from August previously stated that federal prosecutors had received “some volume” of Trump’s private messages. The exact number – 32 – was revealed on Friday as part of a court filing submitted by X, in which it is seeking to appeal a $350,000 fine for failing to comply with the terms of a search warrant. The content of the messages remains unclear.
The warrant, which was served on the social media giant in January, gave X ten days to submit Trump’s data from between October 2020 and January 2021, a time span which the filing noted “includes the November 2020 presidential election and the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.”
In addition to the search warrant, X was also issued with a so-called nondisclosure order designed to ensure that Trump was not aware that prosecutors had gained access to his private messages. This was, the court filing said, to prevent “destruction of or tampering with evidence, intimidation of potential witnesses or serious jeopardy to this investigation.”
However, X told the investigation that it would be unable to comply with the search warrant as it had not been given enough time to do so. The company also objected to the nondisclosure order due to what it said was the “intense publicity around the investigation.”
“Indeed, the materials Twitter produced to the government included only 32 direct-message items, constituting a minuscule proportion of the total production,” prosecutors said.
They added that the nondisclosure request was not a “hypothetical consideration” given alleged attempts by Trump to obstruct another federal investigation into his supposed mishandling of classified government documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Trump denies all wrongdoing in each of the cases against him.
“The former president propagated false claims of fraud (including swearing to false allegations in a federal court filing),” prosecutors wrote in a legal brief, adding that he had “pressured state and federal officials to violate their legal duties, and retaliated against those who did not comply to his demand, culminating in violence at the US Capitol on January 6.”
X lost its appeal and was found to be in contempt of court for delaying its compliance with the search warrant, leading to the $350,000 fine being imposed.