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According to a US appeals court judgment issued on Wednesday, the US special counsel investigating Donald Trump acquired a search order for the former president’s Twitter account in January and the corporation delayed responding.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a federal trial judge’s order to hold Twitter in contempt and punish the company with $350,000 (almost Rs. 3 crores).
According to the judgment, Twitter cited First Amendment concerns about a nondisclosure order imposed in connection with the search because the business wanted to alert Trump about it.
“Under the circumstances, the court did not abuse its discretion when it ultimately held Twitter in contempt and imposed a $350,000 sanction,” according to the judgement.
In a statement on his social networking site Truth Social, Trump claimed that the Justice Department had “secretly attacked my Twitter account, making it a point not to let me know about this major ‘hit’ on my civil rights.”
Prosecutors frequently ask judges not to notify targets of subpoenas issued in criminal investigations in order to preserve their investigations, a practice referenced by the appeals court in Wednesday’s verdict.
Smith’s spokesman declined to comment, while X’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
US appeals court judgment
The opinion issued on Wednesday did not specify which judge found Twitter in contempt.
While Trump’s tweets are public, the firm also stores non-public information about accounts such as direct messages, draft tweets, location data, and the type of device used to send tweets.
The warrant was related to Smith’s inquiry into the events surrounding the January 6, 2021, siege on the US Capitol by Trump supporters while he was still president, according to the opinion.
Trump pleaded not guilty last week to an indictment charging him with planning to reverse his November 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump is the probable Republican presidential nominee for 2024.