U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell found former President Donald Trump to be a flight risk when she approved a search warrant for Trump’s Twitter account, according to a newly released court document.
An appeals court opinion, unsealed Wednesday, revealed Special Counsel Jack Smith requested and was granted a search warrant for Trump’s Twitter account — along with a nondisclosure order prohibiting the company from speaking about the warrant.
A footnote in the appeals court decision, which upheld the lower court’s decision to impose a $350,000 fine on Twitter for delaying production of the information, notes Howell “found reason to believe that the President would ‘flee from prosecution.’”
The government later backtracked that argument, according to the footnote, stating that it “errantly included flight from prosecution as a predicate” in its application for a warrant. The district court also “did not rely on risk of flight in its ultimate analysis,” the appeals court wrote.
George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley noted in a Thursday article that the assertion Trump is a flight risk is “facially absurd” and “undermines the credibility of the court’s order.”
“Trump has 24/7 security,” he wrote. “So Howell agreed that he might shake his sizable security detail, evade them, and go on the lam. He is one of the most recognized figures in the world. He would have to go to Mars to live incognito.”
Howell, an Obama appointee, stepped down as chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Colombia in March.
Trump pleaded not guilty last week to four federal charges relating to his alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Smith previously secured a 37-count indictment against Trump for his alleged mishandling of classified documents.
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