The Department of Justice appears to have collected information on anyone who liked, followed, or retweeted Donald Trump’s Twitter account — among other actions in connection to the former president’s social media — in the days leading up to the January 6 U.S. Capitol breach.
Special Counsel Jack Smith ordered a search warrant against X, formerly known as Twitter, earlier this year as part of his investigation into Trump for allegedly interfering with the 2020 presidential election and the events at the nation’s capitol just before Congress certified Joe Biden as the next president in 2021.
But after several media outlets filed a lawsuit to obtain the document and other related documents, the search warrant released on Monday showed federal authorities gathered a massive trove of data from users who interacted with Trump’s personal Twitter account from October 2020 to January 2021.
“All information from the ‘Connect’ or ‘Notifications’ tab for the account, including all lists of Twitter users who have favorited or retweeted tweets posted by the account, as well as all tweets that include the username associated with the account (i.e. ‘mentions’ or ‘replies’),” the warrant reads.
The 14-page document — half of which has been redacted — has been described by American citizens as an Orwellian nightmare and a breach of privacy and a violation of their constitutional right to free speech.
Smith’s warrant also sought to access Trump’s search history on X, including drafted posts, blocks, mutes, and direct messages, while also demanding a list of all devices used to log in or access the account.
“The content of all direct messages sent from, received by, stored in draft form in, or otherwise associated” with the former president’s account, and the users Trump “has followed, unfollowed, muted, unmuted, blocked, or unblocked, and all users who have followed, unfollowed, muted, unmuted, blocked, or unblocked,” the search warrant lists.
The warrant reportedly included a nondisclosure order that forced X officials to keep Trump in the dark about the search. According to the New York Post, the social media company initially refused the order, claiming in a failed court challenge that the warrant violated the First Amendment and the Stored Communications Act.
The delay resulted in the company receiving a $350,000 fine.
The Justice Department argued in another heavily redacted document released on Monday that the nondisclosure order “was granted based on facts showing that notifying the former president would result in destruction of or tampering with evidence, intimidation of potential witnesses, or other serious jeopardy to an investigation or delaying of trial.”
“For what appears to be the first time in its history, Twitter Inc. (‘Twitter’) has filed a motion to vacate or modify an order that it not disclose the existence of a search warrant,” Smith said, adding that “there is reason to believe notification to the former president, a sophisticated actor with an expansive platform, would result in a statutorily cognizable harm.”
Trump was indicted earlier this year on multiple felony charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, including conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing a congressional proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
He reacted to the search warrant on his Truth Social account in August, criticizing the special counsel for seeking information on his former Twitter account.
“How dare lowlife prosecutor, Deranged Jack Smith, break into my former Twitter account without informing me and, indeed, trying to completely hide this atrocity from me,” Trump said. “What could he possibly find out that is not already known.”