West News Wire: According to court documents that were unsealed on Wednesday, prosecutors working for Jack Smith, the special counsel who has twice filed indictments against former President Donald J. Trump, obtained a search warrant early this year for Mr. Trump’s long-dormant Twitter account as part of their investigation into his attempt to rig the 2020 election. 

The warrant, which a federal judge in Washington signed in January following Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, now known as X, is the first known instance of prosecutors directly searching Mr. Trump’s communications and broadens the scope of the special counsel’s efforts to look into the former president. 

The court papers, which emerged from an appeal by Twitter challenging a part of the judge’s decision to issue the warrant, did not reveal what prosecutors were looking for in Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, which the tech company shut down for nearly two years soon after the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 

But the papers indicate that prosecutors received permission from the judge not to tell Mr. Trump for months that they had obtained the warrant for his account. The prosecutors feared that if Mr. Trump learned about the warrant, it “would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation” by giving him “an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior [or] notify confederates,” the papers said. 

The existence of the warrant was earlier reported by Politico. 

The extent to which the special counsel’s investigation may have been conducted behind closed doors is highlighted by the fact that prosecutors secretly secured a judge’s approval more than seven months ago to monitor Mr. Trump’s Twitter account. A significant portion of the investigation into Mr. Trump’s attempts to hold onto power as well as his other federal case, the one involving his handling of sensitive materials, has been conducted in front of federal grand juries, which are subject to stringent confidentiality regulations. 

In the chaotic period between the election and Jan. 6, Mr. Trump’s Twitter account was one of the country’s most prominent platforms on social media, with millions of followers. That prosecutors asked for a warrant to search the account suggests they wanted specific company data or were interested in some non public aspect of the account though it remains unclear precisely what that may have been. 

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As part of their sprawling investigation into election interference, prosecutors have seized cellphones and other electronic devices from some of Mr. Trump’s close aides and lawyers. Those included at least two people identified as the former president’s co-conspirators in the indictment against him filed this month: John Eastman, a lawyer who advised Mr. Trump on a plan to pressure his vice president, Mike Pence, into throwing the election his way at a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, and Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department loyalist whom Mr. Trump sought to install as acting attorney general. 

In three overlapping schemes to defraud the United States, obstruct the certification of the election in a hearing at the Capitol on January 6, and deny people the chance to have their votes tallied, Mr. Trump is charged in the election. 

The indictment goes into great length multiple times about Mr. Trump’s constant use of Twitter. 

For instance, the indictment mentions how Mr. Trump used Twitter on December 19, 2020, to invite his supporters to Washington, D.C., on January 6, for what he called a “wild” protest. When Trump fans arrived in the city that day in response to his appeal, the message ultimately functioned as a rallying point for both far-right extremists and regular Trump followers. 

The indictment also describes how Mr. Trump used Twitter in the run-up to Jan. 6 to instill in his followers “the false expectation” that Mr. Pence had the authority to use his role in overseeing the certification proceeding at the Capitol “to reverse the election outcome” in Mr. Trump’s favor. 

On Jan. 6 itself, Mr. Trump continued posting messages on Twitter that kept up this drumbeat of “knowingly false statements aimed at pressuring the vice president,” the indictment said. Ultimately, when Mr. Pence declined to give in to the pressure, Mr. Trump posted yet another tweet blaming the vice president for not having “the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.” 

One minute after the tweet was posted, the indictment said, Secret Service agents were forced to evacuate Mr. Pence to a secure location. And throughout that afternoon, it added, rioters roamed the Capitol and its grounds, shouting chants like “Traitor Pence” and “Hang Mike Pence.” 


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