Elon Musk’s X (Formerly Twitter) Slapped with $350,000 Fine for Defying Special Counsel’s Investigation into Trump
Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) has been hit with a substantial fine of $350,000 for failing to furnish documents requested
Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) has been hit with a substantial fine of $350,000 for failing to furnish documents requested by the special counsel, Jack Smith. The request was related to former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, and the penalty was imposed due to the company missing the deadline for compliance. These revelations surfaced through court documents that were made public on Wednesday.
These new details emerged as part of a ruling from a federal appeals court in Washington, shedding light on a legal battle that had been under wraps for months. The court’s decision brushed aside Twitter’s assertion that it should not be held in contempt or subjected to sanctions.
Smith’s team has been actively probing into Trump’s tweets, as evidenced by an indictment unsealed last week, charging the former president with conspiring to undermine the election results and hold onto power post his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Trump, who denies the charges, took to his Truth Social platform to assert that the Justice Department had surreptitiously targeted his Twitter account. He depicted the investigation as an attempt to impede his aspirations to reclaim the presidency in 2024.
The exact nature of the information Smith sought from Trump’s Twitter account remains undisclosed. It could range from details about the timing and origin of the posts, their engagement metrics, and the identities of accounts reposting Trump’s content.
The search warrant’s issuance underscores the magnitude of the investigation and Smith’s determination to gather evidence to build his case. In a recent development indicating the ongoing nature of Smith’s inquiry, former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik met with investigators from Smith’s team.
The search warrant, granted on January 17, directed Twitter to provide information about Trump’s account. The court found probable cause to search the account for potential evidence of criminal offenses. The government also obtained a nondisclosure agreement to prevent Twitter from revealing the search warrant.
The court argued that disclosing the warrant’s existence could risk tampering with the ongoing investigation, granting Trump the opportunity to tamper with evidence, alter his behavior, or inform his allies.
Twitter challenged the nondisclosure agreement, contending that it violated the company’s First Amendment right to communicate with Trump. While it did not question the warrant’s validity, it argued against the timing and conditions of the nondisclosure agreement.
The warrant mandated Twitter to provide records by January 27. Following a court hearing on February 7, a judge found Twitter in contempt but allowed it until 5 p.m. on that day to comply. Twitter, however, only partially adhered to the order on that date and fully complied on February 9.
Amidst these legal battles, the ownership of the platform shifted, with Musk transforming the platform significantly, including controversial policy changes related to misinformation and banned users like Trump.
The unfolding legal drama centers on Trump’s use of his Twitter account in the lead-up to the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. The indictment outlines how Trump used the platform to disseminate false information about the election, incite his followers to come to Washington, and wrongly portray the violent mob at the Capitol as peaceful.