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Special Counsel Jack Smith sought and obtained a search warrant for Donald Trump’s Twitter account, @realdonaldtrump, on Jan. 17, 2023, according to newly revealed court documents.

Twitter’s initial resistance to complying with the warrant resulted in a federal judge holding the company in contempt and levying a $350,000 fine. A federal court of appeals upheld that fine last month in a sealed opinion. But on Wednesday, the court unsealed a redacted version of that opinion, revealing the secret battle for the first time.

“Although Twitter ultimately complied with the warrant, the company did not fully produce the requested information until three days after a court-ordered deadline,” according to the 34-page opinion by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. “The district court thus held Twitter in contempt and imposed a $350,000 sanction for its delay.”

At issue was prosecutors’ decision to serve the warrant along with a “nondisclosure order” to prohibit Twitter from notifying Trump about the warrant’s existence. Twitter complained that the order violated the First Amendment and that the federal judge overseeing the matter at the time — U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell — should have blocked enforcement of the search warrant until the objection was resolved.

The appeals court endorsed Howell’s decision, saying that even disclosing part of the warrant to Trump would have jeopardized the ongoing criminal investigation.

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