Twitter fined $350K for not complying with Jack Smith subpoena because they wanted to tip off Trump

Special counsel also got a court order barring the company from telling the former president about the subpoena

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published August 9, 2023 2:59PM (EDT)

Twitter owner Elon Musk is seen with a Twitter logo in photo illustration. (STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Twitter owner Elon Musk is seen with a Twitter logo in photo illustration. (STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Special counsel Jack Smith's team in January obtained a search warrant seeking records related to former President Donald Trump's Twitter account, court documents released to the public Wednesday show. According to The Washington Post, the details of the document, which also reveal that a judge slapped the company with a $350,000 fine for delaying compliance, were outlined in a decision from a Washington federal appeals court rejecting Twitter's claim that it should not have been sanctioned or held in contempt of court. The filing notes that prosecutors were granted the warrant after a court "found probable cause to search the Twitter account for evidence of criminal offenses."

They also got a nondisclosure agreement barring Twitter from disclosing the search warrant to Trump because the court found that doing so ran the risk that Trump "would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation" by providing him with "an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior," the filing said. Twitter, now known as X, challenged the nondisclosure agreement four days after the compliance deadline, saying that it would not turn over any of the account information, according to the decision. The judges wrote that the company, however, "did not question the validity of the search warrant" but argued instead that the nondisclosure agreement violated the First Amendment and asked the court to assess the legality of the agreement before it handed over information. The judges also affirmed that the district court did not overstep by issuing a $350,000 fine, which was imposed on the company in a "geometric" schedule to punish compliance delays by doubling the fine every day.