Jack Smith Search Warrant May Have Swept Data From Millions of Americans

By Robert Cunningham, updated on November 30, 2023

In a move that has sparked renewed debate and scrutiny, special counsel Jack Smith's search warrant, issued in January 2023, compelled Twitter to yield data on millions of accounts that interacted with former President Donald Trump's tweets.

A judge has temporarily halted attempts to reveal more details about this warrant, emphasizing the need to protect the ongoing investigation.

Issued in January 2023, the warrant sought "all information" on accounts that liked, retweeted, replied to, or mentioned Trump's tweets from October 2020 through January 2021. This period was marked by significant political events, including the U.S. Capitol riot in January 2021.

Twitter's Resistance and Subsequent Consequences

Twitter resisted the broad request from the special counsel, even trying to warn Trump about the probe. However, their refusal to comply earned them a hefty $350,000 fine.

The whole expanse of the materials obtained from Twitter remains unknown. Considering Trump's vast following, it's plausible that the data of millions was scraped in this process.

This follower data collection—which was reported earlier—has gained renewed attention from conservative media this week. The magnitude of the user data involved has sparked intense debate over the scope of such investigations.

Recent Developments and the Court's Decision

On November 27, 2023, the warrant reappeared on a court docket, igniting fresh scrutiny. This led to a judge blocking further efforts to unseal more warrant details two days later, on November 29.

Chief Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, an Obama appointee, justified his decision by emphasizing the importance of protecting the ongoing investigation from potential harassment.

"Ultimately, the undeniable need to protect an ongoing criminal investigation tips the balance to and the Government's request to continue sealing... There may yet come a time when press access becomes appropriate, but at present, the Application is a premature bid for sensitive information pertaining to an active investigation."

Legal Experts Weigh in on the Matter

Former Chief Judge Beryl Howell highlighted the potential enormity of the data obtained, stating:

"All tweets that include the user name associated with the account. That could be a lot of data. So I think you need to talk to them about how to refine that."

Politico's Kyle Cheney noted the delay in the conservative media's reaction to the issue. "For some reason, the pro-Trump crowd has only just discovered tonight the search warrant for Trump’s Twitter account that was publicly unsealed (and extensively reported about) in August," he said.

As the investigation continues, the debate over the implications of such expansive data collection by governmental bodies is set to intensify in the coming weeks.

Conclusion

  • A search warrant issued to Twitter by special counsel Jack Smith in January 2023 has come under renewed scrutiny.
  • The warrant sought data on millions of accounts that interacted with former President Donald Trump's tweets from October 2020 through January 2021.
  • Twitter received a $350,000 fine for resisting the request and attempting to warn Trump.
  • The full extent of the materials obtained from Twitter remains unclear, potentially involving data from millions of users.
  • Conservative media has recently reignited attention to follower data collection.
  • A judge has temporarily blocked efforts to reveal further details about the warrant to protect the ongoing investigation.

About Robert Cunningham

With years of experience at the forefront of political commentary, Robert Cunningham brings a blend of sharp wit and deep insight to his analysis of American principles at the Capitalism Institute.

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