A federal judge fined Twitter $350,000 over its delay in responding to a search warrant on former President Donald Trump’s account.
Investigators for Special Counsel Jack Smith’s probe into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election obtained a search warrant in January that ordered Twitter to produce data related to the @realDonaldTrump account, according to a newly-released public court filing.
Twitter had appealed the fine, but an appeals court upheld the ruling, finding Twitter in contempt of court.
Early this year, a judge found “probable cause to search Trump’s Twitter account for evidence of criminal offenses,” the filing stated. The court did not specify what exactly the investigators were looking for on his account. But some of Trump’s tweets and retweets were included in last week’s indictment alleging that he was part of a criminal scheme to subvert the election.
Investigators first tried to serve the warrant through Twitter’s site dedicated to legal requests, “only to find out that the website was inoperative.” They successfully issued the warrant two days later.
Twitter, which was purchased last year by billionaire Elon Musk, resisted the order, particularly a part which prohibited the social media platform from revealing the existence of the search warrant to anyone.
Twitter “argued that the order violated the company’s First Amendment
right to communicate with its subscriber, former President Trump,” the filing states.
The company ultimately complied with the search warrant after a judge rejected their arguments, but it did so after a delay, leading to the fine.
Trump’s Twitter account was reinstated last November, shortly after Musk bought the company, but the former president is yet to tweet.