Biden’s Praetorian Guard? The Ashley Biden Investigation Raises New Questions Over the Use of the FBI

Below is my column in The Hill on the continued FBI investigation into the loss of Ashley Biden’s diary. The use of the FBI in the case raises, again, the question of whether federal officials are being used to address a family scandal.

Here is the column:

With smash and grabs raging across the country, prosecutors have struggled to assure the public that they are cracking down on the crime wave and using every possible means to deter the organized thefts. One group notably missing in this effort has been the federal prosecutors.

While Attorney General Merrick Garland was criticized for launching a federal task force on threats against school boards (based on a handful of local cases), he has been largely silent on any federal effort to deal with this actual crime wave. That is despite the fact that these attacks are organized on social media and experts think it’s likely the stolen items are being sold on the internet. That is all interstate conduct and would allow for federal enforcement.

There is, however, one allegedly stolen item that did bring a full-scale FBI investigation: the missing diary of Ashley Biden, daughter of President Joe Biden.

The question is why tens of thousands of dollars of purses stolen in cities like Chicago are treated as purely local matters while a single missing diary in Florida is a matter of an ongoing federal effort.

The Justice Department could use laws like the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act. Indeed, federal RICO charges have been brought in prior such cases. RICO was created after local prosecutors failed to combat organized crime and the federal government stepped in with new tools to combat mob organizations. I have long preferred that crimes like these smash and grabs to be handled locally. The federalization of crime removes the primary responsibility and accountability of local leaders for crime. That is why I opposed the use of federal charges to combat rioting in cities like Portland.

I am more concerned that for over a year, the FBI has been conducting raids, issuing subpoenas, and questioning witnesses across the country — not in response to smash-and-grabs proliferating around the country, but for one woman’s missing diary. The investigation led to a rare raid on the home of a publisher, seizure of computers and cellphones, and the targeting of conservative figures. According to the New York Times, the investigation is looking into “whether there was a criminal conspiracy among a handful of individuals to steal and publish the diary.”

If that is true, the most obvious federal crime would be a provision like Section 2314 of the National Stolen Property Act, which criminalizes the transportation of illegally obtained goods valued at $5,000 or more across borders in interstate or foreign commerce by persons knowing the goods to be stolen, converted, or taken by fraud. Even assuming that the diary is worth $5000 or more, why would the federal government create a team and take these extraordinary actions rather than rely on local authorities to investigate such a crime?

The controversy over Ashley Biden‘s diary began during her father’s campaign for the presidency in 2020. Like her brother Hunter, Ashley has struggled with addiction and was living in a two-bedroom house in Delray Beach, Fla., with a friend. According to the New York Times, she decided to go to Philadelphia but to leave some belongings in two bags in the Delray house. The owner later allowed a friend named Aimee Harris and her two children to move in. The Times strongly suggests that Ms. Harris searched the possessions, noting that she was hard up for money and was also a Trump supporter. The Times then simply says “exactly what happened next remains the subject of the federal investigation.”

The Times details Trump supporters who may have been involved in the diary later being sold to Project Veritas, a conservative organization often criticized for ambush journalism. Project Veritas and its founder, James O’Keefe, maintained that they were given the diary by a “tipster” but decided not to use it. Indeed, the group later turned over the material to law enforcement.

As noted by the New York Times, court records show that on Oct. 12, 2020, O’Keefe told Project Veritas staff that said they would not publish a story about the diary. He explained that, while they had “no doubt the document is real,” he was concerned that publishing the diary would be seen “as a cheap shot.”

Project Veritas continued to try to get President Biden to answer questions based on the diary. The Times quotes Project Veritas’s lawyer as stating “Should we not hear from you by Tuesday, October 20, 2020, we will have no choice but to act unilaterally and reserve the right to disclose that you refused our offer to provide answers to the questions raised by your daughter.”

That notably does not threaten the publication of the diary but rather the publication of the refusal to respond to the controversy. This is not just another Section 2314 case. Publications like the New York Times regularly run material unlawfully removed by whistleblowers or sources. Indeed, in 2019, a federal court dismissed a case against the Trump campaign over the use of material from hacked emails. In an 81-page opinion, U.S. District Judge John Koeltl noted “even if the documents had been provided directly to the Campaign [and] the Campaign defendants … they could have published the documents themselves without liability because they did not participate in the theft and the documents are of public concern.”

The concern is whether the FBI is acting on a justified federal crime or acting like a type of Praetorian Guard for the First Family.

This is not a new concern with the Bidens. Federal officers were also used when Hunter Biden’s gun was thrown into a trash bin in Wilmington by Hallie Biden, widow of Hunter’s deceased brother and who was then in a relationship with Hunter. Secret service agents reportedly appeared in the case and asked for the paperwork for the gun from the store where it was purchased. It is still not clear why.

In the end, the removal of the diary was a rotten act of someone with pecuniary or political motives, or both. However, that does not address the equally important questions of the use of the FBI or the need for a federal investigation.

It’s cast into high relief as news outlets around the country run stories on how to avoid buying property stolen in smash and grabs.

As some call for a federal response to the smash-and-grab crime wave, the feds may want to respond as well to questions about its unrelenting focus on who grabbed Ashley Biden’s diary.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can find his updates on Twitter @JonathanTurley.



57 thoughts on “Biden’s Praetorian Guard? The Ashley Biden Investigation Raises New Questions Over the Use of the FBI”

  1. Turley is mistaken about not using federal law enforcement to deal with the BLM and Antifa rioters: there are professional agitators in those groups, and they organized on social media and moved around the country to carry out crimes against people and property. Exactly the the kind of organized crime that RICO is intended to fight. 23 FBI agents investigated the Bubba Wallace hoax, Many more on the Russian collusion hoax, while the serial child molester in US gymnastics got a ‘pass’. Time to clean house

    1. And yet despite overwhelming evidence against Antifa and BLM, not one charge has been filed.

      The FBI is beyond repair. It needs to have its personnel fired, ALL pensions revoked, and re-staffed with a more representative profile of Americans delegated by the States for no more than ten years each as a federated organization with NO offices in DC.

  2. America resembles the Soviet Union because America IS the Soviet Union.

    After you read the Constitution with comprehension, you’ll understand that the entire American welfare/regulatory state is irrefutably unconstitutional.

  3. Alec Baldwin. Send lawyers, guns and money. Lord get me outta this!

    Yo Alec:. When you pick up a gun you make sure the hammer is not cock before you touch it. You open to see if bullets are in there.

  4. While I am not surprised, I continue to be disappointed that Professor Turley continues to use his talents, efforts, and columns to focus on the Biden children.

    1. Would you rather he focus on Democrats lawlessness running amuck in cities across the country? Decisions, decisions

      “Chicago Prada, Hermes stores robbed back-to-back, security guard maced
      Prada, Hermes in Chicago’s Gold Coast robbed within minutes of one another”

      “A security guard in Chicago was maced during the back-to-back robberies of two high-end retail stores in the city’s historic Gold Coast neighborhood on Wednesday evening, authorities said.

      The luxury stores Hermes and Prada, located across from one another on Oak Street in the city’s high end retail district near Michigan Avenue, were each robbed within a span of 10 minutes, Chicago police said.”

      Fox News

    2. …Turley continues to use his talents, efforts, and columns to focus on the Biden children…

      Reading is fundamental. Comprehension matters.

      The focus of this article is the overreach of Federal Agencies in matters the Constitution lays out as powers reserved to the States. The diary is just launch pad used to expose the abuse of power of the FBI, and by extension Biden, himself. Ashely Biden is only mentioned to lay out the legal frame work of chain of custody. How that chain of custody, specifically excludes federal jurisdiction.

    3. While I am not surprised, I continue to be disappointed that the FBI continues to use their talents, efforts, and agents to focus on protecting the Biden children.

  5. “Project Veritas, a conservative organization often criticized for ambush journalism.”

    Though Turley’s comment may seem to some as hostile towards Project Veritas, I can’t believe that Professor Turley was looking at ‘ambush journalism in the negative.’ He knows that historically, ‘ambush journalism’ was a valued source of information praised by the media and the people.

  6. Some thoughts on what the Good Professor has said in his post.

    The Diary and other personal effects were abandoned property as the Biden Daughter had no ownership rights to the Home, did not live there, and had departed with no stated intention to return as a resident, was not paying rent or part of the Lease. One question would be if she was in fact listed on the Lease and if so by departing as she did violate some clause in the Lease that would end her rights to the property and its contents.

    Abandoned property can be sold by a third party…..absolutely legal.

    Had those possessions been in a rubbish bin….the Police would not have to obtain a warrant to seize it.

    The Project Veritas gave the property to the Police without using any of it….saying to do so would be un-ethical in their view… no problem for Project Veritas.

    The reality is simple….the Diary contains information that is very sensitive to the Biden family and by association President Biden and his Presidency.

    The FBI is justified in determining what happened, was any of the information divulged to foreign intelligence sources, or to media sources.

    If in that process they discover a violation of Federal Law….THEN they may open a Criminal Investigation but NOT BEFORE that.

    The initial investigation is a National Security Investigation not a criminal investigation.

    The Warrants the FBI are obtaining before legitimately opening a criminal investigation should in all likelihood involve the notorious FISA Court and the even more well known FBI Counter-Intelligence Division.

    Likewise….and this is the real conundrum for the wonderful senior management at the FBI…..when evidence of State Crimes are discovered they should be making Criminal Referrals to the State and Local Police having jurisdiction over those crimes.

    That is the real threat to Joe Biden….if there is information in that Diary that would support such a criminal referral even if not directly involving him.

    Sadly, we know the FBI is a very political organization these days (well it has always been since J Hoover took the reins).

    1. The FBI is justified in determining what happened, was any of the information divulged to foreign intelligence sources, or to media sources.

      The federal govt has ZERO jurisdiction. Your “foriegn intelligence sources” is a feint, slight of hand, deflection. Using your logic, the Constitution has been rendered meaningless.
      All “analysis” stops at that fact.

      1. Under the current regime, the Constitution is not meaningless but evidence of guilt if found in your possession.

      2. Iowan2…….you might want to read up on the FBI’s authorities under the Law and Executive Orders.

        The FBI has authority to investigate threats to national security pursuant to presidential executive orders, attorney general authorities, and various statutory sources. Title II of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, Public Law 108-458, 118 Stat. 3638, outlines FBI intelligence authorities, as does Executive Order 12333; 50 U.S.C. 401 et seq.; 50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

        For criminal investigations all it takes is reasonable suspicion of intended criminal conduct.

        1. For criminal investigations all it takes is reasonable suspicion of intended criminal conduct.

          What evidence? There is NO evidence. Your National Security angle is just that. An angle. Nothing supports such wild speculation.

          My point stands. If the Government has the unbridled power to play, what if, The Bill of Rights, and most, it not all the Constitution is meaningless.

        2. So basically what you are saying is Ashley Biden recorded potential classified information in her diary – which is a criminal act.

  7. The good professor is asking “whether federal officials are being used to address a family scandal.” Of course, they are. Democrats are in control, and too many Republicans have buried themselves so deep they can’t hear what is happening.

    This forces good people to sometimes vote for people who bury themselves rather than let Democrats keep control. Democrats are destroying the country. “Decline is a Choice,” a Democrat choice.

    1. Prairie,

      Yes! It looks like Claudius pulled from behind curtains by Praetorians to be made emperor after the murder of Caligula.

      Another great painting is the Emperor Vitellius on the Gemonian Stairs. “I was once your emperor.”

  8. The entire agency is corrupt. Remember the noose investigation? Fifteen agents to figure out it was a door pull. At least they finally got that right. There are many things it has gotten wrong.

    The authors of that short article say the FBI is not what it used to be.

    I wonder if it was ever what it used to be.

    Now it seems little more than muscle for crime families.

  9. Putin said that we will all be turned into radioactive ash. Merry Christmas, everybody!

    1. That is not a Putin quote. It came from Russia TV. He may have told them to say it. But it is not a Putin quote.

    1. Anon: “There should be a federal response to the illegal immigration wave.”


      There is. They are promoting and helping it.

  10. If I were benevolent dictator, I would abolish the FBI, and clean out everyone who has been indoctrinated in the ways of political correctness.
    I would do this at the local level, too.

    1. There is no such thing as a benevolent dictator. What you really want is to be a dictator, plain and simple.

  11. Reread the column.

    What struck me is the collection of low-lifes that rose to the top at the FBI.

    Comey, Page, Clinesmith, McCabe, Strzok.

    That is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Scum begat scum in the organization.

    And the rot is apparently still there.

    1. Scum begat scum in the organization.

      Some want to give a pass to the agents out doing the hard work, the worker bees.

      But what I notice is the “dog that didn’t bark”.

      Has their been a single whistle blower exposing the rot? That tells me the rot is pervasive throughout.

  12. It seems like it would have been more efficient to have the media initiate a fake news campaign like they did with the Planned Parenthood sales of baby body parts videos. Like no one believed the contents of the videos, no one would have believed the contents of some diary.

  13. I should think that possible pedophilia on the part of the President of the United States is a matter of public concern. Indeed, the very fact that the secret police are investigating it is evidence that the President is concerned.

  14. The fact that Turley had to write this column is a tremendous indictment of the FBI.

    Combine all the current reports with the shenanigans of senior FBI during the Trump years and you have a picture of a political agency supporting the Dems.

    Agency needs to be purged.

    One piece of good news; imagine if that partisan hack Garland was on SCOTUS.

  15. this is why we need remove GOP leaders like McConnell, Graham, Romney…and when the LANDSLIDE GOP election comes…full scorched earth!

    Cut 50% of all federal government in DC area! Move 40% to the Heartland

    DC is LOST!

Comments are closed.