Twitter turned over Donald Trump's Twitter DMs and deleted posts after search warrant

Investigators were also able to secure Trump's search and location history from October 2020 to January 2021.


Despite having trouble obtaining former President Donald Trump's records from Twitter (now X), the special counsel investigating the events of January 6th, 2020 was ultimately able to get his hands on vast amounts of information from the website. Based on the newly unsealed court filings (PDF) shared by Politico, though, it took a a lot of back and forth and a massive amount of effort before the counsel was able to secure the data requested from Twitter.

Apparently the search warrant required Twitter to produce all the tweets the @realdonaldtrump created, drafted, liked or retweeted, including any post that he eventually deleted. The website also had to turn over DMs "sent from, received by, stored in draft form in, or otherwise associated with" @realdonaldtrump, as well as all other accounts related to it that the former president might have used on the same device. All devices used to log in to @realdonaldtrump had to be noted and given to the counsel, as well, along with the account's privacy settings and IP address history from October 2020 to January 2021. In addition, Twitter was required to hand over all records of searches done by @realdonaldtrump and the account's location information from the same time period.

Throughout the transcript of the proceedings, you'll see how the prosecutors insisted that Twitter had to adhere to a nondisclosure order that prohibits the company from telling Trump about the warrant. They explained that they had evidence that disclosing the warrant could jeopardize the probe, warning the court that "there would be actual harm and concern for the investigation, for the witnesses going forward." Meanwhile, Twitter's side argued that some of the information the investigators were requesting could be covered by executive privilege, which the prosecutors and judge questioned, since they didn't deem it likely that Trump discussed official government matter via DMs.

As Politico reports, US District Judge Beryl Howell notably called attention to Twitter's efforts to give Trump advance notice about the search warrant. She had called the action "extraordinary" and something the company had never done for other users. The judge wondered whether Elon Musk was trying to "cozy up" to the former president and make him feel "particularly welcomed" on the platform. Trump's Twitter account had already been reinstated after Musk took over the website, but he has yet to start posting again.