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Legal Showdown: X (Formerly Twitter) Fined for Resisting Donald Trump Account Warrant

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Washington D.C, USA – X, the company formerly called Twitter, was fined $350,000 for noncompliance with a court-ordered search warrant concerning the social media account of former President Donald Trump, as disclosed by recent court documents.

A three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 9, 2023, detailed the specifics of the court’s instructions to Twitter in a 34-page opinion.

In January, they revealed that special counsel Jack Smith had sought a search warrant related to Trump’s account.

This move was connected to the ongoing criminal probe into the Capitol riot events from January 6, 2021, and the subsequent peaceful transition of power after President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 elections.

The court documentation mentioned, “The district court issued a search warrant in a criminal case, directing appellant Twitter, Inc. (‘Twitter’) to produce information to the government related to the Twitter account ‘@realDonaldTrump‘. This was paired with a nondisclosure order preventing Twitter from making any notifications concerning the warrant’s existence or its details.”

The court findings highlighted Twitter’s reluctance and delay in producing the demanded materials and their failure to adhere to the given timeline.

“Although Twitter eventually complied with the warrant, the complete information was handed over three days post the court-imposed deadline,” the panel observed. Consequently, this delay led to the court holding Twitter in contempt, resulting in a sanction of $350,000.

Twitter’s subsequent appeal raised arguments against the nondisclosure order, citing violations of the First Amendment and the Stored Communications Act.

The company further claimed that the district court should have withheld enforcing the search warrant until Twitter’s objections to the nondisclosure order were addressed.

Lastly, they argued against the court’s decision to hold Twitter in contempt and the imposed sanction.

However, the panel of judges dismissed all of Twitter’s claims.

The judges declared, “We affirm the district court’s rulings in all respects. The district court properly rejected Twitter’s First Amendment challenge to the nondisclosure order.”

They further clarified that the court’s decisions were made without abusing its authority.

“The district court adhered to necessary procedures prior to declaring Twitter in contempt of court – this included providing Twitter with an opportunity to express its views and a chance to correct its contempt to evade sanctions,” the panel noted.

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