BrandArena: Prosecutors have Trump’s X Direct Messages and Drafts

Thursday 17 August 2023

Prosecutors have Trump’s X Direct Messages and Drafts

As his office fought for material relating to his account on X, formerly known as Twitter, special counsel Jack Smith requested to analyse former President Trump's direct chats, deleted tweets, and location data.

Newly unsealed court records provide more information about what prosecutors were seeking for when they subpoenaed records relating to the Twitter account in January, a request approved by the court.

X was required to supply the special counsel with all of the @realDonaldTrump account's tweets, likes, retweets, and direct messages — as well as tweet and DM draughts. Yes, the special counsel has unsent tweets and direct messages from Trump that he typed but did not post. The special counsel was also given deleted tweets and texts.

Furthermore, X was required to disclose Trump's Twitter search history from October 2020 to January 2021, when his followers rioted at the Capitol building in an attempt to alter the presidential election results in Trump's favour. During that time, Twitter was also required to provide over IP and location information associated with Trump.

According to the documents, X also had to provide the special counsel with a swath of other account information, such as Trump’s contacts, the details Trump used when signing up for Twitter, his privacy settings, and any changes made to his account. 

X also had to provide the devices Trump used to access his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account, as well as any alternate handles used by Trump that were connected to these devices. This means that if Trump had any alt accounts he was secretly posting from, the special counsel knows about them.

However, what the special counsel may have discovered in this Twitter data isn't the only intriguing aspect of these documents.

According to a transcript of a February hearing, US District Judge Beryl Howell disagreed with Twitter's legal team on the company's stalling tactics. The judge had found Twitter in contempt of court for failing to produce the items required in the search warrant to the special counsel. The corporation received a $350,000 penalties.

A nondisclosure order looked to be at the heart of the problem, as it prevented Twitter from informing Trump about the search warrant. Prosecutors contended that doing so would jeopardise their investigation.

As Gizmodo reports, some experts have raised concerns over the government’s nondisclosure order. However, the outlet also points out that Musk’s Twitter has had no problems complying with certain foreign government requests that resulted in the censorship of its users.

Judge Howell was so befuddled over Twitter’s unusually staunch position on notifying Trump that he openly asked if Twitter owner Elon Musk was using the opportunity to get into Trump’s good graces. Musk had unbanned Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account from the platform just months earlier, although Trump has yet to post on the platform at the time of publication of this article.

"Is this to make Donald Trump feel like a particularly welcome new and renewed Twitter user?" Howell inquired.

At a subsequent hearing, Howell prodded Twitter's legal team once more with a question about the company's objective. "Is it because the new CEO wants to befriend the former president?" he said of Musk.

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