Jack Smith's team warned of violence if warrant for Trump's Twitter account were made public

By 
 September 19, 2023

Newly unsealed court records show Special Counsel Jack Smith's legal team argued that their efforts to obtain records from former President Donald Trump's Twitter account should be kept secret.

When justifying their request, the lawyers cited the possibility that Trump could react by inciting violence.  

Twitter fought against keeping warrant secret

According to The Hill, Smith's office managed to obtain 32 direct messages from the former president's Twitter account.

That came following a legal battle in which the social media platform was fined $350,000 for failing to turn over the material.

Twitter resisted the request on First Amendment grounds and also suggested that the messages might be protected by the doctrine of executive privilege, something Smith's office said wasn't so.

"Twitter offers no reason to conclude that the former President, with the full array of communication technologies available to the head of the Executive Branch, would have used Twitter’s direct message function to carry out confidential communications with Executive Branch advisors," their motion read.

Smith's office said concerns about violence were "not hypothetical considerations"

In their filing, members of Smith's team alleged that "the former President has taken several steps to undermine or otherwise influence the investigation into the potential mishandling of classified information following the end of his presidency, including publicizing the existence of the Mar-a-Lago Warrant."

They also pointed to Trump's offer to cover the legal expenses of individuals who may be called to testify as witnesses against him, calling it a "pattern of obstructive conduct."

The team thus maintained that "the former President presents a significant risk of tampering with evidence, seeking to influence or intimidate potential witnesses."

In addition to claiming that Trump could jeopardize the case if the warrant were made public, prosecutors insisted that concerns over violence "are not hypothetical considerations."

"Following his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, the former President propagated false claims of fraud (including swearing to false allegations in a federal court filing), pressured state and federal officials to violate their legal duties, and retaliated against those who did not comply with his demands, culminating in violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6," they wrote.

Content of Trump's messages remains unknown

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ultimately sided with Smith's office, finding its reasoning to be "unquestionably compelling."

"The district court found that there were ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that disclosing the warrant to former President Trump ‘would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation’ by giving him ‘an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior, [or] notify confederates," it concluded.

The Hill noted that although the warrant used to obtain the 32 direct messages has been unsealed, it is still unclear what the messages concerned.

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