Court fines Twitter/X $350K for resisting gov’t warrant to access Trump’s banned social media account – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) – Twitter/X must pay $335,000 in fines for resisting the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) search warrant seeking records relating to the account of former President Donald Trump, according to a recently unsealed 3-0 ruling from a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Time Magazine reported that Special Counsel Jack Smith sought the information as part of his investigation into the former president’s challenging of the 2020 election results. Smith also sought to bar Twitter (since rebranded as X by owner Elon Musk) from publicly disclosing the warrant so as not to alert Trump to an ongoing investigation.

Smith obtained the warrant in January for records pertaining to Trump’s Twitter account, which the company’s prior management famously banned after the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Musk, who bought the company last year with the stated purpose of making it more open and politically neutral, reinstated Trump last November, though Trump opted to remain on his own platform, Truth Social.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell approved the warrant to search it for potential “evidence of criminal offenses.” Twitter objected to the non-disclosure order, citing its own First Amendment rights to free speech as well as the issue of potentially depriving Trump of a chance to challenge the search on executive privilege grounds, and said it would not comply with the order until the matter was litigated.

Howell rejected Twitter’s arguments, ordering it to comply by February 7. The company did not produce all of the records until February 9, prompting the judge to fine Twitter at a rate recommended by the government that “would accrue at a geometric rate: $50,000 per day, to double every day that Twitter did not comply.”

Conservative defense attorney Marina Medvin reviewed the case in a lengthy X thread, noting that the company can expect additional demands for similar information and explaining why the probe may not find anything worth the time and expense of the legal battle to get it:

Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination for 2024, currently faces multiple criminal prosecutions relating to the 2020 election to his retention of classified documents after leaving office. Conservative fans and foes alike of the 45th president agree that the charges are in large part politically motivated, but they differ in their reactions. 

Supporters cite them as proof that those currently in power uniquely fear Trump, whereas backers of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the primary argue they serve the dual purpose of generating sympathy for Trump among GOP primary voters while severely weakening him among the general electorate.