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Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office slapped Twitter with a search warrant in January for records related to former President Donald Trump’s account on the platform — and the social media giant was fined $350,000 for not fulfilling the request on time, it was revealed Wednesday.

The back-and-forth was outlined in a unanimous DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld both the fine and a lower court holding X, formerly known as Twitter, in contempt.

The social media company had argued that an order prohibiting the company from either notifying anyone about the existence of the search warrant or what was sought by it violated the First Amendment, and that the lower court judge should have waited to enforce the warrant until the objection was dealt with.

Twitter initially refused to comply with the search warrant in protest, per the opinion, before handing over the requested information three days after a court-ordered deadline.

The district judge found that divulging the warrant to the 45th president could jeopardize Smith’s probe by giving the 77-year-old an “opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior, [or] notify confederates.”


Donald Trump
Donald Trump deployed his Twitter account to unleash his wrath on his political enemies.
AFP via Getty Images

Jack Smith
Court filings had alluded to a battle between Twitter and the special counsel, but it wasn’t confirmed until the unsealed records Wednesday.
AP

The lower court also found that prosecutors had “probable cause to search the Twitter account for evidence of criminal offenses.”

“On January 17, 2023, the government tried to submit the papers through Twitter’s website for legal requests, only to find out that the website was inoperative,” read the opinion by Circuit Judge Florence Pan.

The company was successfully served two days later, but when its counsel was contacted Jan. 25 about the warrant, the appeals court found, she told Smith’s investigators she “had not heard anything” about it.

The warrant ordered Twitter to provide the records by Jan. 27.


Elon Musk
Elon Musk has cast himself as a staunch defender of free speech.
REUTERS

A judge found Twitter to be in contempt after a court hearing on Feb. 7, but gave the company an opportunity to hand over the documents by 5 p.m. that evening.

Twitter, however, only turned over some records that day. It didn’t fully comply with the order until Feb. 9, the ruling says.

Twitter boss Elon Musk purged over half the company’s workforce shortly after taking command last October.

For months, the firm appeared to operate without a press office, though early this year the communications email began replying to reporter requests with a poop emoji.

It is unclear what specific information Smith’s team sought from Twitter.


Donald Trump Twitter
Donald Trump’s Twitter account on was suspended back in 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

The special counsel formally lodged a four-count indictment against Trump last week over his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump was an avid user of Twitter during his presidency.

He was barred from the platform following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

He was also booted off of Facebook and Instagram as well, but has since been allowed back.

Musk ultimately decided to let Trump out of the Twitter doghouse this past November after conducting a user poll.


Donald Trump
Donald Trump is the 2024 GOP primary frontrunner.
AFP via Getty Images

The prolific micro-blogger has yet to take up the opportunity, opting to use his alternative Truth Social platform instead, where he has unleashed sporadic screeds against Smith.

Trump has posted on Instagram though, to promote his limited edition digital trading card set.

His last post on X noted his plans to skip soon to be President Biden’s inauguration.

It was posted on Jan. 8, 2021.

Trump has also been charged by Smith on a 40-count indictment over his alleged retention of classified documents.

He is also facing a 34-count indictment out of Manhattan for allegedly falsifying business records to hide hush money payments.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to all pending criminal cases against him and has vehemently denied wrongdoing across the board.

With Post wires