Twitter, the platform now known as X, was fined $350,000 after being held in contempt for failing to provide timely access to former President Trump’s account, as ordered by the court, according to a newly unsealed court filing.
The fine was imposed after special counsel Jack Smith secured a search warrant of the account in connection with Trump’s efforts to remain in power after losing the 2020 election. His office sought the warrant in January 2023.
The social media company did not fully produce the requested information to Smith until three days after a court-ordered deadline, according to the filing. The company did ultimately comply with the court’s order.
The government also obtained a nondisclosure agreement that allowed the warrant to remain secret, meaning Twitter could not even tell Trump that a warrant had been obtained for his account.
That decision came after the D.C. District Court determined there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that disclosing the warrant to Trump would “seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation” by giving him “an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior [or] notify confederates,” according to the filing.
When the government first attempted to serve Twitter with the warrant Jan. 17 through its website for legal requests, the website was “inoperative,” but two days later, on Jan. 19, the warrant was successfully served there, according to the filing. A week later, when the government requested an update, Twitter’s counsel said she “had not heard anything about [the] [w]arrant.”
On Feb. 1, Twitter challenged the government’s nondisclosure order under First Amendment objections and said it would not comply with the warrant until the court determined the legality of the order.
The district court ultimately sided with the government, holding the social media platform in contempt.
Trump was arraigned on four charges in connection with his efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election last week. The first hearing in that case before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan will be held Friday.