Elon Musk’s X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, gave the Justice Department at least 32 of Donald Trump’s direct messages in February in response to a search warrant stemming from the government’s probe into 2020 election fraud, according to newly unsealed documents.
The contents of the messages weren’t revealed, but the communications could emerge as crucial pieces of evidence at trial as special counsel John “Jack” Smith, who indicted Trump on Aug. 1, seeks to prove that the former president knowingly spread false claims that the election was rigged.
The revelation about how many of Trump’s private messages were turned over to Smith’s office was included in a sealed May 5 filing by Twitter with the federal appeals court in Washington. The document, made public by the court Friday, is part of Twitter’s ongoing fight to overturn a $350,000 fine for missing a judge’s deadline to comply with the warrant.
At the heart of the fight is Twitter’s argument that the Justice Department violated its First Amendment right to free speech by blocking the company from alerting Trump that his messages were being sought through a government warrant — a standard warning to customers that is one of Twitter’s policies.
Smith’s office accused Trump of conspiring to defraud the U.S. by attempting to remain in office after he lost the election to Joe Biden — an alleged scheme that culminated in a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump’s supporters. It’s one of four criminal prosecutions Trump is facing as he campaigns to return to the White House in 2024.