Federal Court Declares Trump a Flight Risk in Secret Subpoena Decision

The disclosure of a subpoena of Twitter by Special Counsel Jack Smith was surprising in a number of respects, including the hefty $350,000 fine imposed by U.S. District Court Beryl Howell (left) for a three-day delay as the company sought to address the demand. However, the two most surprising, and concerning, elements were that the subpoena was secret and Howell justified it, in part, on Trump being a flight risk. Neither seems warranted in this case even assuming that the subpoena was in other respects warranted.

Special counsel Jack Smith subpoenaed and obtained a search warrant related to former President Trump’s account on Twitter, now X. However, he also sought the information with a nondisclosure order that prohibited X from disclosing the existence or contents of the search warrant to Trump or anyone else. However, Trump already knew he was under investigation, so why was there a need for nondisclosure?

The court found that Trump might change his course of conduct but that seems unlikely. If anything Trump has been most consistent in his social media practices. Indeed, while some of us have criticized him for his posting, he has remained entirely undeterred.

The lower court stated that “The district court found that there were ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that disclosing the warrant to former President Trump ‘would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation’ by giving him ‘an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior, [or] notify confederates.'”

It is not clear how Trump would destroy the evidence in possession of Twitter, particularly after the company is informed that it must preserve and disclose the meta data.

Then there was the added rational that was tucked into footnote 2 of the D.C. Circuit opinion: Trump might flee.

Judge Howell actually agreed that the former President was a flight risk.

Process that for a second. Trump has 24/7 security. 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.

It is facially absurd. Trump has been sued and criminally charged across the country. He has never made a break for it. Where would he go? Cuba?

The finding of a flight risk undermines the credibility of the court’s order. This is not to question the ability to force the release of the information. However, the need for secrecy is far from evident. Rather it succeeded in preventing any challenge.

Here is the D.C. Circuit opinion: Trump-Twitter Opinion

215 thoughts on “Federal Court Declares Trump a Flight Risk in Secret Subpoena Decision”

  1. The executive and judicial branches, including the DOJ and particular courts, will have egregiously, illicitly, and unconstitutionally acted four times to suppress political opposition in the person of President Donald Trump.

    The acts will soon be complete, that is the completion of the act of indictment.

    According to Marbury vs. Madison and the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court is vested with the power to determine the legitimacy of all completed “acts” of the executive and legislative branches.

    The Supreme Court will soon be derelict and negligent, as it waivers in fulfilling its sworn-oath duty to support the Constitution, if it persists in failing to “…declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void…” and continues to allow the furtherance of juridical abuse and political persecution in America.

    If tyranny and oppression prevail in America, the Supreme Court will be complicit.

  2. Jack Smith is vile to the core, as is Fani Willis. They are crooks. Unbelievable all this 24/7 harassment, persecution and bogus charges against a former president. Biden stole the election and should be in prison. Outrageous the low level to which our nation has sunk under this illegitimate, corrupt president.

      1. Be careful. 

        Thou Shalt Not Covet.

        Thou Shalt Not Steal.

        You covet and steal other people’s money (OPM).

        President Trump was not arrested or audited as a “crook,” a completely false assertion, by the time he was 70, when he became president. You are a liar, which is a fact.

        It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature; you really need to stop being jealous, naturally provide for yourself, and become self-reliant.

        It’s not a good idea to sin against God.

        Be careful.  

      2. DJT isn’t the one mired in bribery and fraud allegations with some pretty damming evidence being made evident. Everyone knows the election was rigged, the FBI and DOJ have now been proven to have interfered with the election through their Russia hoax claims and the suppression of the Biden crimes. Like Trump or not, he’s right and what is being exposed should concern every American. It’s rotten to the core and it’s time for a change!

    1. Those on the left do not understand right and wrong.

      Dietrich Bonhoeffer attributed the evil of Germany under Hilter to stupidity rather than malice and further noted that stupidity was not correlated to class or education.

      That is where we are in this country today.

  3. So I guess they think Trump is going to re paint that 757 at every airport, so he can hide his takeoffs and landings? Good Grief!!!!

  4. All wealthy scumbags are flight risks lol
    Turley’s credibility is the only thing eroding as he whinges about JUSTICE finally catching up to Trump

  5. Ironic that Trump is considered a flight risk. Legal system is American is as reliable as the Soviet Union

    Isn’t it odd when the FBI murders an elderly 300lb handicapped Trump voter in cold-blood we IMMEDIATELY get menacing pictures of him and his life story and every social media post he ever made but when a transgender murders Christian children in cold-blood we get NOTHING. Or maybe…..Not odd at all, it is all according to plan. The problem is, the plan does not favor freedom, liberty, or the average American. Of course the dude with lots of guns is going to answer the door armed when people start banging on it at 6 AM. Who wouldnt?

    1. That was the plan…..take him by surprise….with armed FBI agents shouting, banging on his door…..then use a battering ram…..
      and shoot to kill when suspect has a firearm in his hands — as any normal person would do for self-defense when startled by loud banging and battering down your door…at 6am.

      It could have been handled much differently. The FBI chose this deadly ambush to send Trump supporters (political dissidents) a message: We’re coming for you.

          1. This hit on him was executed to make Americans afraid.
            This is Joe Biden’s FBI. Corrupt as hell from top to bottom.
            Those agents could say ‘no’ and resign in protest.
            But no, they went ahead and murdered a 75 yr old right-winger to send a chilling message to the rest of us: Fear the Biden FBI.
            Just like the Nazis.

            We still don’t know if the man Biden’s Stasi murdered in cold blood was armed with a gun.

            F*ck Biden, Wray, Garland, the DoJ, the FBI….and yes F the rank & file too.

      1. Trumps security includes more American Armed… Service member’s Retired Military Combat Vets Patriotic Americans and Political Dissidents from all walks of life…His allies are growing from around the world! Communist are gonna die trying!!

  6. Why in the world are some Americans fiercely opposed to tyrannical communist China and Russia when President Obama’s America is just exactly the same tyrannical dictatorship?

    Why would America fight any war against communist China and Russia over any issue when President Obama’s America is the exact same oppressive, anti-American, unconstitutional welfare and enslavement regime?

    All Americans must embrace communist China and Russia as President Obama “fundamentally transforms” America and facilitates America’s subsumption by communist China.

    Hip, hip, Hooray for global communism and China!!

    When President Obama is done with Donald Trump, Americans will only be allowed to vote for Michelle Obama, and President Obama will be so kind as to complete and mail in the ballots for all Americans to save them their time and effort.

    Thank you so much, Comrade, Dear Leader, General Secretary, and de facto President of the Fundamentally Transformed United States of America, Barack “Barry Soetoro” Obama

    From On High, the American Founders could not be prouder of “…OURSELVES AND OUR POSTERITY!!”

    Hear, hear!

  7. This whole witch hunt of Trump is disgusting. All this secrecy and punitive treatment of a Presidential candidate is so banana republic.

    1. On the contrary, it’s a mark of a democracy to indict if there’s evidence of the person having committed crimes, even if that person is a candidate.

      1. That’s right! It is a sign of democracy when you jail your opponents. In Russia, Putin’s justice system just sentenced Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to an additional 19 years on “extremism” charges. Navalny is already serving an 11 ½-year sentence on a variety of other politically-motivated charges. Putin said: “No one is above the law. We show the strength of our democracy when MAGA people are put in prison.” (OK, I made up the quote, but it is from the same play book our DOJ uses.

  8. “J6 Committee failed to preserve records, has no data on Capitol Hill security failures, GOP charges”
    – FOX News

    “Pelosi’s Jan 6 committee destroyed crucial, raw evidence and information in the greatest coverup operation in congressional history. In doing so, they violated the law, violated House rules, and violated Trump’s right to have access to information that may have been useful to his defense”
    – Mark Levin

    Justice is toast in the United States. We are in complete and total free fall.

    1. Mop up under way… First insurrection was impeachment using Russia Hoax, second attempt was insurrection via The Perfect phone call that was twisted by Democrats .Then the rowdy protesters of January 6..This one worked and propaganda has managed to define Reality..Civil War is the only way to stop the trajectory of Democrat enslavement.. Climate Change, lock downs, mRNA injections, fossil fuels bans, starvation , digital money etc will stamp out freedom and mass killings in the streets is only eight years away..

  9. Jack Smith has requested a January 2, 2024 trial date for the Trump election conspiracies trial.

  10. Paul Sperry

    “DEVELOPING: House Oversight to subpoena Jimmy Biden, a key material witness in an impeachment inquiry, as docs show Joe’s bro was both mastermind/muscle behind #BidenInc shakedown operation, and his wife Sara Biden also key player in illicit enterprise,emails, bank records reveal.”

  11. Biden is the biggest loser president of them all. Sadly he has no awareness of his world nor ours

    🎵 No is the saddest experience that you will ever know 🎵

    Federal Court Blocks $20 Billion in Student Loan Forgiveness

    The 8th Circuit just blocked Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan in response to a lawsuit filed by six GOP-led states. Biden cannot cancel any student debt while the injunction is in place, pending an appeal. It’s the second court in recent days to put a block on Biden’s plans to cancel up to $20,000 in debt.

    – Business Insider

  12. Jonathan: DJT has a plan. In all this threats against Pres. Biden, Jack Smith and the other prosecutors arrayed against him DJT wants his supporters to respond–like they did on Jan. 6. One MAGA follower of DJT on Truth Social got the message loud and clear.

    On Tuesday, a Utah man, Craig Robertson, was shot and killed in a confrontation at his home by FBI agents when they attempted to execute a search warrant. The reason for the search warrant was a series of posts by Robertson on Truth Social–saying he was MAGA supporter and was “cleaning the dust off the M24 sniper rifle” Robertson also said “The time is right for a presidential assassination or two. First Joe, then Kamala”. These posts were just hours before Pres. Biden was due to land in Utah for an event. Robertson also posted threats against Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, AG Garland and NY AG Letitia James.

    The Q is why DJT would allow such direct death threats on his platform? Unless DJT is encouraging them. DJT is acting like a Mob boss by encouraging his MAGA supporters to “whack a mole” to defend and protect him from prosecution. The other Q is what it will take before the supporters of DJT on this blog will finally conclude their leader is a direct threat to law and order and our Democracy?

    1. The guy was over 75 years old, was immensely obese at around 300 lbs, had to get up and walk with a cane. The FBI didn’t do a very good job of “de-escalating” like they said the police needed to do with the drugged up criminal with a heart condition, George Floyd.

    2. Bet you don’t know that every member of the Biden family saw a piece of that $20 million dollars they raked in from Russia and Ukraine…except two people – Joe and little Navy.

      So now the media are completely uninterested in Russians colluding with a president and his family? Why is the media not interested in asking questions? It’s just so puzzling….

      The $20 million dollars in bribes uncovered so far doesn’t even include they payoffs from Chy-na and other corrupt foreign oligarchs. All being paid to Biden, Inc. in order to exert influence over American foreign policy. And Joe delivered.

      Wait until the investigators get a look at Biden, Inc.’s offshore bank accounts.

    3. Dennis Logic Lesson:

      I guess we can indict Bernie Sanders for softball shooter James Thomas Hodgkinson under your logic. Jimmy loved him some Bernie. How about the Marines for Lee Harvey Oswald? LHO was a big fan of them. I heard David Berkowitz loved German Shepherds. Hell, he talked to them. Send the SPCA to the dungeon!!

    4. “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

      “Because from what I understand, [black] folks in Philly like a good brawl.”

      – Barack “Barry Soetoro” Hussein Obama, June 14, 2008

      Ain’t That American??

      Sounds more Rwandan, doesn’t it?

    5. “The Q is . . .”

      The real question is: Why does the Left lie so fluidly? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

      The facts are that he made death threats on Facebook and Twitter. Months ago, he made a death threat against Bragg on Truth Social. At which time, Truth Social *notified* the FBI and suspended his account.

      Odd that you would use this expression: “whack a mole.” That’s what’s needed to smack down the daily popping up of Leftist lies.

  13. Judge Howell is one of the Taylor-Swift style judges who swoon whenever a groupie DOJ teenybopper darkeners her door. So glad to accomodate, she engages in absurdities to placate the government who invariably leaves her out to dry. Most women grow out of the middle school mentality but some obviously don’t.

  14. It isn’t Trump or the Republicans who are busily destroying evidence, left and right; the January 6th committee, the Mueller lawyers and their spontaneous wiping of all data from their government phones, Hillary and her bleaching and breaking of the notorious Blackberry with top secret information, Pelosi and her destruction of the notes and communiques of what really wehnt down on January 6. These are the actions of Communists; Trump has done nothing but flap his jaws. Which set of actions are REALLY those of tyrants?

    1. The cabal of Dems are not communists. They are capitalists, corruptly flouting due process.


        “They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln…to lead his country through…the reconstruction of a social world.”

        – Karl Marx to Abraham Lincoln, 1865

        “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

        Central planning, control of the means of production (i.e. unconstitutional regulation), redistribution of wealth, social engineering.

        Ain’t That America???

        Under Comrades Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson, Clinton and Obama, yes, yes indeed, yes it is!

        The entire communistic American welfare state is unconstitutional including, but not limited to, admissions affirmative action, grade-inflation affirmative action, employment affirmative action, quotas, welfare, food stamps, minimum wage, rent control, social services, forced busing, public housing, utility subsidies, WIC, SNAP, TANF, HAMP, HARP, TARP, HHS, HUD, EPA, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

        Article 1, Section 8, provides Congress the power to tax ONLY for “…general (all, the whole) Welfare…,” omitting and, thereby, excluding any power to tax for individual Welfare, specific Welfare, particular Welfare, favor or charity. The same article enumerates and provides Congress the power to regulate ONLY money, the “flow” of commerce, and land and naval Forces. Additionally, the 5th Amendment right to private property was initially qualified by the Framers and is, therefore, absolute, allowing no further qualification, and allowing ONLY the owner the power to “claim and exercise” dominion over private property.

        Government exists, under the Constitution and Bill of Rights, to provide maximal freedom to individuals while government is severely limited and restricted to merely facilitating that maximal freedom of individuals through the provision of security and infrastructure only.

        Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto 59 years after the adoption of the Constitution because none of the principles of the Communist Manifesto were in the Constitution. Had the principles of the Communist Manifesto been in the Constitution, Karl Marx would have had no reason to write the Communist Manifesto. The principles of the Communist Manifesto were not in the Constitution then and the principles of the Communist Manifesto are not in the Constitution now.

  15. Jonathan: The just released redacted opinion by the DC Court of Appeals re the search warrant of DJT’s Twitter account records is revealing in many ways and shows how you have distorted the record.

    It is interesting that when the government initially tried to serve the search warrant they found Twitter’s legal website “inoperative”. No doubt because when Elon Musk took over Twitter (now “Z”) he gutted many of Twitter’s important functions–like its legal department. So there was nobody around to respond to the subpoena for DJT’s account records. When the government followed up a Twitter lawyer said she didn’t even know about the search warrant. A telling comment on Musk’s management style!

    The search warrant Judge Howell approved included a non-disclosure order because Jack Smith was concerned that if DJT was told by Musk about it, DJT might try to delete or alter his account records. Considering that DJT was hiding top secret docs at Mar-a-Lago and trying to destroy surveillance video tapes Smith’s concerns were justified. In addition, it’s pretty clear Musk is sympathetic to DJT. This was confirmed when Musk filed an objection to Judge Howell’s order based non-sensical 1st Amendment grounds. Eventually, Twitter did comply by turning over some of DJT’s records but was it was three days late and the records were incomplete. That’s why Judge Howell imposed the $350,000 sanction. Twitter then appealed Judge Howell’s order and sanction to the DC Court of Appeals. On 7/18 the Court upheld both the non-disclosure order and the sanction. A redacted version of the DC Circuit Court’s opinion was unsealed yesterday. The Court shot down Twitter’s claim it had a 1st Amendment right not to disclose DJT’s account records. The 1st Amendment does not include the right of third parties to refuse to comply with a lawful search warrant.

    The Q is why you would intentionally misstate the DC Circuit opinion? The full text of footnote 2 reads as follows: “The district court also found reason to believe that the former President would ‘flee from prosecution’. The government later acknowledged, however, that it had ‘errantly included flight from prosecution as a predicate’ in its application. The district court did not rely on risk of flight in it’s ultimate analysis” (at p. 5). It’s pretty clear from Judge Howell’s analysis that she based her order (which you quote) that there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that disclosing the search warrant to DJT “would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation” by giving him “an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior [or] notify confederates”. So “flight risk” was not included in Howell’s ultimate order.

    What is “facially absurd” (your words) is you would distort the clear Court opinion and falsely claim “Howell agreed that he [DJT might shake his sizable security detail, evade them, and go on the lam”. That was NOT in Howell’s order. I can only conclude you believe your role is to defend DJT’s actions and attempts to evade accountability. That’s the pattern we will see in your columns throughout this and next year. I just thought it was important to set the record straight on your latest false claim.

    1. You’ve gotta be kidding! How would Trump be able to delete information on Twitter, now called X? Not Z.

      Trump has been an open book and the judicial system has literally stepped on his constitutional rights.

      1. Bongino says the feds want valuable metadata that reveals financiers, donors, and various and otherwise supporters of President Trump.

    2. So answer this one question – how does a user on X destroy the metadata they the user do not own?

        1. “No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

          – Director of Secret Police and Communist Commander James “Jumpin’ Jim” Comey

          What a —-ing idiot!

    3. I think you have flee from persecution and flee from prosecution confused. If you’re supporting the fully exposed corruption of the federal government and its full weight of political persecution of President Trump through unelected bureaucrats at this juncture, you should invest all your rubles in bitcoin.

  16. It is clear that the Judge is corrupt as to allow a warrant to Twitter to take all of Trump’s Twitter remarks and make them “secret” is just harassment as what we write is speech and should be covered under the First Amendment. She is not assigned to the case in DC or Florida so she should not be doing anything with either case. To say Trump is a Flight Risk is dumb since he has Secret Service people around him constantly.

  17. “However, the two most surprising, and concerning, elements were that the subpoena was secret and Howell justified it, in part, on Trump being a flight risk.”

    Come on Doc, you didn’t just fall off the DC turnip truck. You live and work there. You know “The SySTeM” there. How could you possibly surprised by either parties actions regarding this warrant request?

    1. JAFO,
      I think they are just throwing things out there to see what sticks.
      Or, raises the leftists hysteria.
      Just read all the ‘Anonymous’ comments between the good professor’s two columns today, if you can stomach it. You can almost smell their desperation.

      1. They are laying the legal ground work to throw Trump in jail.
        They want him in an orange jumpsuit and they will not stop until they get it.

      2. You’re right, Upstate, they are indeed. I’m only wondering why the prof was “surprised” considering everything he’s witnessed and written about for the past eight-ish years. Maybe Turley’s being sarcastic and we just missed it? 😊

    1. You asked a loaded question with a false assumption. Judge Cannon (the judge assigned in the FL documents case) is a Trump appointee.

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