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Prosecutors warned judge that Trump learning of Twitter search warrant could 'precipitate violence'



Prosecutors warned a judge in April that if Donald Trump learned of their search warrant for his Twitter account, it could "precipitate violence," per new court filings.

Prosecutors for special counsel Jack Smith Petitioned a judge in secret proceedings in April, arguing that if former President Donald Trump learned of the search warrant they secured for his Twitter account, it could "precipitate violence" -- evoking the attack by one of Trump's supporters on an FBI field office in Ohio that occurred after the search of Mar-a-Lago last year, according to newly unsealed court filings.

The special counsel's office early this year served Twitter with a search warrant for records and data from Trump's Twitter account as part of its federal investigation in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, ABC News previously reported.

In making their case to keep Twitter from disclosing the search to Trump, prosecutors argued that the former president "presents a significant risk of tampering with evidence, seeking to influence or intimidate potential witnesses, and otherwise seriously jeopardizing the Government’s ongoing investigations" into both his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his handling of classified documents.

MORE: Special counsel sought Trump's Twitter DMs despite 'extraordinary' pushback from company, court documents say

The disclosure came in hundreds of pages of court filings unsealed Friday at the request of a media coalition, including ABC News, that sought further details on the government's secret fight with Twitter -- now named X -- to search through Trump's account data and keep their effort from becoming public.

A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Months before they moved to indict Trump in both the documents investigation and Jan. 6 probe, the documents show how prosecutors were highly alarmed about steps they believed Trump was already taking to allegedly obstruct their probes.

Those acts, they argued, included publicizing the existence of the Mar-a-Lago warrant and paying the legal fees of numerous potential witnesses who could testify against him.

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives at the Monument Leaders Rally hosted by the South Dakota Republican Party, Sept. 8, 2023, in Rapid City, S.D.
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives at the Monument Leaders Rally hosted by the South Dakota Republican Party, Sept. 8, 2023, in Rapid City, S.D.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Giving the warrant to Trump, they argued, would "provide him with considerable ammunition to engage in the same kind of obstructive efforts" he was already participating in.

The filing from April also reveals that when Twitter handed over the initial tranche of data from Trump's account to the government, it included "32 direct message items," though it does not say whether those were messages sent or received by Trump.

The data also included information that prosecutors said could help to show where Trump was when he sent certain tweets, or if someone else was using his account.

Twitter ultimately lost its fight in both the district court and before a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, and was forced to pay $350,000 in fines after being held in contempt for failing to comply with the search warrant, according to previously released court records.

The company has appealed again before the full D.C. Appeals court, though it's not immediately clear whether the court will take up the case.

Trump pleaded not guilty last month to charges of undertaking a "criminal scheme" to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and pleaded not guilty in June to 37 criminal counts related to his handling of classified materials after leaving office. He has denied all charges and denounced the probes as a political witch hunt.

ABC News' Lalee Ibssa contributed to this report.