There is a curious story out this weekend on reported FBI raids of writers or associates of Project Veritas, the conservative investigative journalism outfit. Project Veritas has been described variously as “Gonzo” or “guerilla” journalism and some insist it is more of a political than a press organization. However, it fits the definition of journalism, in my view, and that makes the raids troubling. All the more troubling is the cause: the missing diary of President Biden’s daughter Ashley. [Update: The FBI reportedly also raided O’Keefe’s home]
The New York Times reported that the FBI searched two locations in New York in search of the “stolen” diary that went missing days before the 2020 presidential election. Project founder James O’Keefe questioned how the Times received the story within an hour of the first raid.
O’Keefe says that the organization actually received a tip that the diary was abandoned in a room, an allegation that harkened back to the abandoned laptop of Hunter Biden. However, Ashley reportedly insisted it was stolen.
The use of the FBI is also reminiscent of the still unexplained use of the FBI when Joe Biden was Vice President to search for a gun owned by Hunter Biden that was discarded behind a restaurant.
Project Veritas decided not to run the story because it could not verify that the diary belonged to Biden. (The FBI may have just offered that confirmation). Instead, it alerted the police, according to O’Keefe: “Project Veritas gave the diary to law enforcement to ensure it could be returned to its rightful owner. We never published it.”
So why the raids? Since when does the FBI conducted raids over missing diaries?
The FBI can cite the interstate elements of the alleged theft as raising a federal crime. However, what is the crime? It is not clear if they are suggesting that the responsible parties were seeking to sell the diary or that there was some national security element (which would be bizarre since Biden’s daughter was writing before her father ever became president).
Journalist organizations are routinely given material removed from businesses, agencies, or private owners without permission by confidential sources. If this is a federal crime subject to FBI raids, what happened to the new media policies of the Biden Administration after the Tucker Carlson controversy?
There are a host of unanswered questions. Here are five to start with:
- What was the context for the diary’s loss? (Did Ashley Biden leave the diary in a room or was it stolen?)
- What is the alleged federal crime (and what is the precedent for a major federal investigation over such an alleged theft)?
- What precautions were taken by the Biden Administration in light of the claimed media status of the targeted individuals?
- Why was there a delay in this action being taken if the alleged theft occurred a year ago?
- Has this matter been under investigation for a year and did the White House request the intervention of the FBI?
Regardless of how one feels about Project Veritas, there should be calls from media outlets for some answers to these basic questions. Likewise, Congress should be seeking such answers as part of its oversight responsibilities.