Prosecutors have Trump’s Twitter DMs and drafts


The special counsel investigating Donald Trump for his role in the January 6 storming of the Capitol building — and his mishandling of government documents, including some that are classified — has the former president’s Twitter data. When the obtaining of said data was reported last week, it caused a lot of speculation around what, exactly, federal prosecutors are looking for.

Well, newly unsealed documents show exactly what prosecutors obtained via their search warrant for Trump’s Twitter data — a warrant that Elon Musk and company apparently fought hard to obstruct.

First and foremost, X, the company formerly known as Twitter, had to provide the special counsel with all of the @realDonaldTrump account’s tweets, likes, retweets, and direct messages — as well as tweet and DM drafts. That’s right, the special counsel has unsent tweets and direct messages that Trump had typed out but did not post. Deleted tweets and messages were also provided to the special counsel.

On top of that, X had to produce Trump’s search history on the Twitter platform from October 2020 to January 2021, when his supporters rioted at the Capitol building in an attempt to overturn the presidential election results in Trump’s favor. Twitter also had to turn over IP and location information attached to Trump during that period.

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.

But, what the special counsel may have found in this Twitter data isn’t the only interesting thing to come out of these documents.

Based on the transcript of a February hearing, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell clashed with Twitter’s legal team over the company’s delaying tactics. The judge had held Twitter in contempt of court for failing to provide the special counsel with the items requested in the search warrant. The company was fined $350,000. A nondisclosure order appeared to be at the heart of the issue, as it denied Twitter the ability to notify Trump about the search warrant. Prosecutors argued that doing so would impact 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 he is a particularly welcomed new, renewed user of Twitter?” Howell questioned.

Howell again prompted Twitter’s legal team at another hearing with a question over the company’s intent.

“Is it because the new CEO wants to cozy up with the former president?” he said, speaking of Musk.

Twitter eventually complied with the search warrant.


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