Special Counsel Jack Smith to use data from Trump’s phone in election interference trial: Court filing

Special Counsel Jack Smith plans to use data from the cell phone former President Trump used in his final weeks in office — including data revealing when Trump’s phone was “unlocked and the Twitter application was open” on Jan. 6, 2021, according to a new court filing. 

Smith, in a court filing Monday, notified the court that he plans to call “expert” witnesses to testify in the trial against Trump, the 2024 GOP presidential frontrunner, which is set to begin March 4, one day before voters in several states participate in Super Tuesday primaries. 

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One of the experts Smith plans to call has “knowledge, skill, experience, training, and education beyond the ordinary lay person regarding the analysis of cellular phone data, including the use of Twitter and other applications on cell phones,” according to the filing.

In the filing, Smith hints that the expert will be able to testify that he or she “extracted and processed data from the White House cell phones” used by Trump and one other individual. The identity of the second individual is unclear.

A New York Times guest essay argued that the Department of Justice’s prosecution of former President Trump, even if successful, may have “terrible consequences” for America. (Getty Images)

Smith said the expert will also testify that they “reviewed and analyzed data” on Trump’s phone and on “Individual 1’s” phone, “including analyzing images found on the phones and websites visited.”

Smith said the expert has “determined the usage of these phones throughout the post-election period, including on and around January 6, 2021” and has “specifically identified the periods of time during which the defendant’s phone was unlocked and the Twitter application was open on January 6.”

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Trump, in August, pleaded not guilty in federal court to all four federal charges stemming from Smith’s investigation into 2020 election interference and the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.

The cell phone data Smith plans to use in the trial is in addition to Trump’s direct messages on the social media platform once known as Twitter, despite the company’s efforts to block access.

Capitol riot

A scene from the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in 2021. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Unsealed court filings in August showed that Smith’s team obtained location data and draft tweets in addition to the former president’s messages.

Attorneys for the company, now named X Corp., attempted to block and delay the effort in January and February, leading one federal judge to speculate that X owner and one-time CEO Elon Musk was attempting to ally himself with Trump.

The social media giant ultimately lost the struggle, however, and was forced to hand over an extensive list of data related to the “@realdonaldtrump” account, including all tweets “created, drafted, favorited/liked, or retweeted.”

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The handover also included searches on the platform surrounding the 2020 election, devices used to log into the account, IP addresses used to log into the account and a list of associated accounts.

Meanwhile, Smith, on Monday, asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether Trump can be prosecuted on charges relating to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

A federal judge ruled the case could go forward, but Trump said he would ask the federal appeals court in Washington to reverse that outcome. Smith is attempting to bypass the appeals court — the usual next step in the process — and have the Supreme Court take up the matter directly.

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The Supreme Court, late Monday, asked Trump’s lawyers to respond to the special counsel’s motion by Wednesday, December 20 — two days later than Smith had requested. 

The Court’s next scheduled conference day for consideration of such matters is Jan. 5, 2024. The court’s brief order did not signal what it ultimately would do.

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