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Seems like most days, this newsletter could lead with an item about either Donald Trump or Twitter.

How about both?

Well, that’s where we start today. Trump and Twitter.

Breaking news on Wednesday that actually goes back months. Special counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant earlier this year for data and records related to the former president’s Twitter account, and when the social media company didn’t immediately comply, they were hit with a $350,000 fine. Politico’s Kyle Cheney broke the news after court documents were released publicly for the first time on Wednesday.

It still isn’t known exactly what Smith was looking for on Trump’s Twitter account, which was shut down after the Jan. 6 insurrection in 2021 until Twitter (now X) owner Elon Musk lifted the Trump ban last November. Trump still hasn’t tweeted since Jan. 8, 2021.

The New York Times’ Alan Feuer wrote, “But the papers indicate that prosecutors got permission from the judge not to tell Mr. Trump for months that they had obtained the warrant for his account. The prosecutors feared that if Mr. Trump learned about the warrant, it ‘would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation’ by giving him ‘an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior, (or) notify confederates,’ the papers said.”

Feuer wrote that the warrant, which was actually signed by a judge back in January, “is the first known example of prosecutors directly searching Mr. Trump’s communications and adds a new dimension to the scope of the special counsel’s efforts to investigate the former president.”

Feuer added, “The fact that prosecutors quietly obtained a judge’s permission more than seven months ago to peer into Mr. Trump’s Twitter account underscores how much of the special counsel’s work may have taken place out of public view. Much of the investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to maintain his grip on power and into his other federal case — the one related to his handling of classified materials — has been conducted in front of federal grand juries, which operate under strict rules of secrecy.”

Twitter delayed complying with the warrant, arguing it didn’t have an issue with the search warrant, but it believed a gag order — and not being able to inform Trump — violated its First Amendment rights. It thought that issue should be resolved before handing over any of Trump’s Twitter info. But a lower court judge gave Twitter a deadline to hand over the materials asked for in the search warrant. When Twitter missed the deadline, it was hit with the fine.

A federal court of appeals upheld that fine last month, writing, “Although Twitter ultimately complied with the warrant, the company did not fully produce the requested information until three days after a court-ordered deadline.”

In June, the gag order was modified by the government. It said Trump could be alerted, but the name of the case agent could not be revealed.

We now wait to see what, if anything, was on Trump’s Twitter account.

On his Truth Social, Trump posted Wednesday, “Just found out that Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ secretly attacked my Twitter account, making it a point not to let me know about this major ‘hit’ on my civil rights. My Political Opponent is going CRAZY trying to infringe on my Campaign for President. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Does the First Amendment still exist? Did Deranged Jack Smith tell the Unselects to DESTROY & DELETE all evidence? These are DARK DAYS IN AMERICA!”

Fox News hosts are still sending messages to Donald Trump, trying to convince the former president to go to this month’s Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee. Fox News is hosting the debate.

So far, Trump hasn’t committed to attending and keeps hinting on the campaign trail that it makes no sense for someone with a big lead in the polls to participate in a debate. He even said the other day, “Maybe we’ll do something else,” whatever that means.

Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and Fox News president Jay Wallace recently had dinner with Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and encouraged him to enter the debate.

Several Fox News hosts — including Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade and John Roberts — have all said on the air they thought Trump should participate in the debate.

Now add Martha MacCallum to the list. Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday, MacCallum — who will co-moderate the debate with Bret Baier — said, “I think it’s a great opportunity to speak to the American people, and I think it’s going to be a platform where the former president can look directly at some people on that stage who he has contention with and have a moment to set the record straight. … I clearly hope he takes advantage of the opportunity to speak to voters in Milwaukee on Aug. 23.”

While Republicans wait to see if Trump will participate in the first debate, plans are already being set for a second presidential debate. It was announced Wednesday that Fox Business will host the second debate, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, on Sept. 27. Univision and Rumble also will air the second debate.

So that’s two debates and both will be hosted by one of Fox’s properties.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins talks during a press conference in January. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Here’s a nice shoutout for local news from someone you might not expect: Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Cousins was recently interviewed by reporter and anchor Jana Shortal from KARE 11 in the Twin Cities.

Cousins told Shortal, “I love local news.”

Shortal asked, “Why?”

Cousins said, “It’s just, obviously, most news has gone like this (as he said “this,” he made a downward motion with his hand). It’s just toxic, and I feel like local news is still somewhat pure.”

Cousins has received plenty of criticism for his play and Shortal reminded Cousins that local news hasn’t always been nice to him.

Cousins smiled and said, “That’s OK, that’s OK. When I watch it, I just feel like I’m at least getting some good quality news instead of just trying to incite people.”

I don’t care what the guy does for a living, that’s good stuff.

If you’re into sports TV, especially debate shows, this will intrigue you from many angles.

First, remember Rachel Nichols? She was a big star at ESPN, especially on the network’s NBA coverage, until controversy in 2021. That’s when leaked audio from 2020 was made public. In 2020, while the country was in lockdown because of COVID-19, the NBA held games in a bubble near Orlando. Nichols was there to cover the NBA and she had a camera and recording devices in her room to do live reports for ESPN.

Nichols was unaware her camera was on and that everything she said in her room was being recorded on server back at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. During what she thought was a private conversation, Nichols complained to an adviser of NBA star LeBron James that she was passed over for the job as host of the pregame show, “NBA Countdown.” The reason, Nichols suggested, is that ESPN was “feeling pressure” for its “crappy longtime record on diversity.” That’s why, Nichols seemed to be saying, ESPN gave the job to Maria Taylor, who is Black. Nichols is white. Someone leaked the audio to The New York Times’ Kevin Draper.

Eventually, Nichols and Taylor left ESPN. Taylor went on to a high-profile NFL hosting gig at NBC, while Nichols ended up hosting a show on Showtime and appearing occasionally on CNN.

Now Nichols might have a new gig. Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reports she will be a regular panelist on FS1’s daily debate show “Undisputed” with Skip Bayless.

“Undisputed” has an opening since Shannon Sharpe abruptly left the show earlier this summer after run-ins with Bayless. The show has been on hiatus the past several weeks while it figures out how to replace Sharpe.

So Nichols comes on board, but she’s not alone. Also expected to occasionally sit across from Bayless are former NFL star Richard Sherman, who once had a notable on-air run-in with Bayless, and rapper Lil Wayne. Also under consideration as an occasional panelist are former NFL stars Michael Irvin and Keyshawn Johnson, recently laid off by ESPN.

“Undisputed” is expected to return to air on Aug. 28.

The Washington Post’s Monica Hesse with “A young mother disappeared 13 years ago. What did it mean?”

The Athletic’s Meg Linehan with “This World Cup’s anti-USWNT outrage isn’t just hateful, it’s irrational.”

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.
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