Justice Department Accused of Assault on Free Speech and Free Press in the Project Veritas Case

I previously wrote about deep concerns over the FBI investigation of Project Veritas over the missing diary of Ashley Biden, daughter of President Joe Biden. The use of the FBI in a case involving a missing diary is itself difficult to square with its priorities, let alone the different treatment given the New York Times.  Now, counsel for Project Veritas has filed a motion detailing what could be a very serious violation of court orders as well as an attack on free speech and free press.

There has been relatively little attention to the extraordinary efforts of the Biden Justice Department in pursuing those connected with the disappearance of the diary of the President’s daughter. The concern is that the FBI is acting like a Praetorian Guard in acting on what is a crime ordinarily handled on a local level.

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.”

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.”

Now we have new details of the lengths that the government has gone in this case, including allegedly evading a court order to protect the confidentiality of journalistic and attorney-client material.

In its 45-page court filing, counsel accused the Department of Justice of such circumvention after Microsoft recently revealed that the DOJ had previously seized Project Veritas documents from a cloud account using a warrant. I testified on such abuses recently in Congress.

The Project describes the investigation as “retributive” on behalf of the Biden Administration. It did so with “extreme measures that violate the First Amendment and corrode freedom of the press,” according to the filing.

Judge Torres appointed a special master, retired U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, to protect confidential information on Dec. 8, 2021 in the Southern District of New York. The court specifically recognized that “potential First Amendment concerns that may be implicated by the review of the materials seized from Petitioners.” However, the letter from Project Veritas counsel states:

“We have recently learned, however, that the government already had in place mechanisms for circumventing these protective processes and invading the First Amendment and attorney- client privileges of Project Veritas and its journalists, the existence of which the government concealed from counsel for Project Veritas and its journalists and, we believe, from this Court. We have discovered that from November 2020 to April 2021, the government used compulsory demands, including secret warrants and 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d) orders, to obtain voluminous materials from Microsoft, the email services provider used by Project Veritas, spanning the email accounts of eight journalists and Project Veritas’s Human Resources Manager.

…It appears that the government misled this Court by omission, failing to disclose during the briefing and arguments over the appointment of a Special Master that the government had already obtained through these surreptitious actions many of the privileged communications this Court charged the Special Master with protecting. The government’s clandestine invasions of journalist’s communications corrode the rule of law.”

That is a familiar pattern and was discussed at the prior congressional hearing.

Some of the search demands clearly would implicate areas that the court previously sought to protect with the appointment of Judge Brown as special master. That includes:

According to court papers attached to the letter, here is some of what the feds were after:

b. Evidence of communications regarding or in furtherance of the Subject Offenses, such as communications with or regarding Ashley Biden, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (and representatives thereof), and/or Ashley Biden’s associates regarding her stolen property.

c. Evidence of the location of Ashley Biden’s property and the location of the user of the Subject Account at times relevant to the Subject Offenses, such as communications that reference particular geographic locations or refer to the property being located in a particular place.

d. Evidence of the identity and locations of potential co-conspirators, such as communications with other individuals about obtaining, transporting, transferring, disseminating, or otherwise disposing of Ashley Biden’s stolen property, including but not limited to communications reflecting the knowledge of co-conspirators that the property obtained from Ashley Biden had been stolen, and communications that contain personally identifiable information of co-conspirators and references to co-conspirators’ places of residence or locations at particular points in time.

e. Evidence regarding the value of any of Ashley Biden’s stolen property, such as communications about the resale or market value of any of the items stolen from her, or any plans to sell or market the same.

f. Evidence of steps taken in preparation for or in furtherance of the Subject Offenses, such as surveillance of Ashley Biden or property associated with her, and drafts of communications to Ashley Biden, President Biden, and Ashley Biden’s associates regarding her stolen property and communications among co-conspirators discussing what to do with her property.

Any search of those sweeping terms would net confidential and privileged information.

Putting aside the concerns over a crackdown on a journalistic organization, there remain unanswered questions over why this extraordinary effort was launched by the FBI over a missing diary.

The concerns over the Project Veritas investigation continue to mount, but neither Congress nor the media have demanded answers from the Biden Administration.

 

85 thoughts on “Justice Department Accused of Assault on Free Speech and Free Press in the Project Veritas Case”

  1. “The concerns over the Project Veritas investigation continue to mount, but neither Congress nor the media have demanded answers from the Biden Administration.”

    Nooooo?????… I can’t believe that!

  2. And once again, I find myself in the wee hours imagining how Joe Biden and his main ‘handlers’ would fare under enhanced interrogation.

  3. Many bloggers and commenters have regularly defended the ‘right’ of ‘private’ media to do as they please because the first amendment only applies to government. That is a disingenuous argument that ignores now essential freedom of speech and open debate are to a healthy political system, but at least one non-American whoe country does not formally guarantee freedom of speech understands that, so a link to his editorial and another to the role Ukraine has played in US politics, which is related. The issues raised in both should be openly debated, but now that the NYT has discreetly admitted Hunter’s laptop is real and Poland wants to send peacekeepers into Ukraine to create a de facto no-fly zone, the mainstream media is full of pro-war propaganda and has no time to waste on domestic political scandals. We have, by the way, jumped several rungs on Herman Kahn’s ‘excalation ladder,’ and the worry there is that if his model is correct, we are moving rapidly toward thermonuclear war, and that may be more important than either Ukraine or the suppression of free speech, but so long as only one side is allowed to speak, how will we know?
    https://www.spiked-online.com/2022/03/23/how-did-we-let-lockdown-happen/
    https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2022/03/10/how_ukraine_conspired_with_dems_against_trump_to_prevent_the_kind_of_war_happening_now_under_biden_820873.html

    1. “That is a disingenuous argument that ignores now essential freedom of speech and open debate are to a healthy political system . . .”

      How do you plan on enforcing your “right” to free speech on a private company?

      Maybe with a “nudge” from the government?

      1. Under a Constitutional Republic the subject would never hAVE COME UP. In this case the ANSWER IS……

        I DUNNO DO I feel like it this day or need to come up with some extra payoffs?

        1. Version two of course is from the Socialists and depends on the pay off possibilities considering it GOES THROUGH Rake Off Piglosi who provides the cover needed through her ‘friends’ in the DISS Department of Internal State Security.

    1. There are letters the govt use to coerce digital companies to provide information on their customers. They are not warrants signed by judges, but operate under the color of law, if not the letter of the law. The digital companies comply or risk interruption of service. Along with the request are orders not to publicize the request.

      Microsoft is the owner of the cloud server for Outlook email applications.

    2. Anyone that has an Microsoft email account can store information of their cloud servers called OneDrive. You get some space for free but for a monthly fee you can get more and it’s relatively inexpensive. Sadly we live in a fascist nation with massive amounts of collusion between state and corporate actors. My favorite story of this: John D. Rockefeller, Oligarch or Patriot?
      At the ripe old age of 23, the infamous John D. Rockefeller, future robber baron and America’s wealthiest man, started his first transportation company to sell goods to the Federal Government to supply the Union Army during the American Civil War. He also had enough money to be able to pay a “Substitute’ to be drafted, then called “Conscription” the unconstitutional use of involuntary servitude. The war was so unpopular both sides had to enact conscription laws and yet both sides allowed their wealthy to sit on the sidelines out of harm’s way and profit from the war.
      This is something the ruling classes “gatekeepers” as some call them, journalists and authors, do not want everyone to know. The fact that Rockefeller had the money at this age, was able to secure such a government contract and was a large contributor to the Republican Party who backed Lincoln and the war, should be illuminating for many.
      The moral of the story is that the MO of the ruling class has always been, to sell goods and services to the taxpayers, and they will force us to fight and kill one another if necessary. From vaccines to voting machines to prison telephone systems to nuclear subs and obviously, they care not what happens to the majority as their wealth is taken/stolen from them under always dubious reasons.

      We now know the U.S. paid various MSM organizations about $1 billion to promote the vaccines. From computer software to prison telephone systems that over charge the inmates, government treasuries without the protection of individuals rights and property, become slush funds to the higher bidders. It must be covered up. As such, the government has always been both a confiscatory cartel but also a protection racket for the confiscators and I know of no nation in history that has been able to stop it. It not that any single social program is that bad in an of itself, it the plethora of them that occurs. This is why I’m a libertarian and whey you can trust the words coming out of the mouths of 99.9% of the politicians and their paid minions in the MSM. Sadly, it a two headed snake slithering through the swamp and as our founded attempt there is only one way to stop them; don’t give them our money. The great question; are taxes a necessary evil? Check out Zomia, a/k/a the Southeast Asian Massive and the history of the Irish Celts between 650AD and 1650AD. Understanding who rules the Western Alliance and their influence over much of the world though the central banking cartel is quite illuminating. Note; the same folks pushing the vaccines are backing the Ukrainians and the World Economic Forum gang.

  4. Turley says:

    “The concerns over the Project Veritas investigation continue to mount, but neither Congress nor the media have demanded answers from the Biden Administration.”

    Well, to be fair, there is a bit of news in the world: the war in Ukraine. The media at present is focused on that understandably. It’s good for ratings.

    I trust you will remind us of your concerns about this investigation after the war subsides. They do sound legitimate. Thankfully, you don’t indulge in the Trumpist paranoia of a “Deep State.” An unhinged concept you have NEVER endorsed but which is rife among the lying Trumpists in your “blog family.”

  5. As noted by another commenter here.
    This is not about the providence of the diary. That is the bait and switch, the dishonest leftist use to change the subject.
    This post is about the DoJ violating citizens constitutional rights.
    A dozen people in the FBI and DoJ should be charged with crimes. Warrants are not prepared by a single administrator sitting in the basement. There is a whole procedure in place to make sure all the legal hurdles are cleared. Low level grunts averted the eyes and failed to do their jobs. The need to be charged along with their bosses, and bosses, bosses.

    1. the word is provenance meaning “a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.”

  6. The DOJ and a little old thing like freedom of speech?

    If there were law enforcement in Washington, D.C., the Deep Deep State “swamp,” Americans would not be having these conversations and these people would have been thrown in prison long ago, and for good reason.

    Are fraud and perjury before a FISA court serious infractions? Ask Christopher Wray.

    Which locution of whitewash is John Durham painstakingly rendering in his subterranean laboratory?

    Will it be a cover-up as effective as the Warren Report?
    ____________________________________________

    “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

    – Barack Obama
    ______________

    “We will stop him.”

    – Peter Strzok to FBI paramour Lisa Page
    ___________________________________

    “[Obama] wants to know everything we’re doing.”

    – Lisa Page to FBI paramour Peter Strzok
    _________________________________

    The Obama Coup D’etat in America is the most egregious abuse of power and the most prodigious crime in American political history.

    The co-conspirators are:

    Kevin Clinesmith, Bill Taylor, Eric Ciaramella, Rosenstein, Mueller/Team, Andrew Weissmann,

    James Comey, Christopher Wray, McCabe, Strozk, Page, Laycock, Kadzic, Sally Yates,

    James Baker, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Priestap, Kortan, Campbell, Sir Richard Dearlove,

    Christopher Steele, Simpson, Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, Stefan “The Walrus” Halper,

    Azra Turk, Kerry, Hillary, Huma, Mills, Brennan, Gina Haspel, Clapper, Lerner, Farkas, Power,

    Lynch, Rice, Jarrett, Holder, Brazile, Sessions (patsy), Nadler, Schiff, Pelosi, Obama,

    Joe Biden, James E. Boasberg, Emmet Sullivan, Gen. Milley, George Soros, John McCain,

    Marc Elias, Igor Danchenko, Fiona Hill, Charles H. Dolan, Jake Sullivan, Strobe Talbot,

    Cody Shear, Victoria Nuland, Ray “Red Hat” Epps, Don Berlin, Kathy Ruemmler, Rodney Joffe,

    Paul Vixie, L. Jean Camp, Andrew Whitney et al.

  7. Could there be some form of tort action? Addiction is viewed by many medical experts as a disease or disability, so was Ashley exploited simply due to the family she was born into? Unlike the previous administration, serving in the White House, is Ashley technically not a celebrity insulated from defamation lawsuits? She likely also had no secrecy classifications and wasn’t bound by any secrecy contracts.

    Legal or not, should the family members of famous or influential people be subject to this type of scrutiny. Does Ashley herself get paid a celebrity salary or have any governing authority (unlike the Trump kids)? Maybe that’s why O’Keefe didn’t lower himself to that level by refusing the tip?

    1. For their intents and purposes. I do not see much in Washington DC

      That is for the Citizens. Maybe we just need to examine our intents and purposes. There is nothing SACRED about the PARTY system. Give it a failing grade and go return to the Constitution as Good Citizens.

      Constitutional Centrism for me. Down with copy catting the CCCR.

    2. If you think we’re celebrating now wait til Clarence Thomas sloughs off this mortal coil.

      1. See? I’ve said it elsewhere, they are going to kill Justice Thomas. He is still hospitalized and was supposed to be released after 2 days. They are going to kill him. The Democrat Party are desperate to seize all the power they can before they are obliterated in November election.

        Pray for Justice Thomas. They are going to “Scalia” him.

  8. How old is this “Ashley?” 12, maybe 13? What sane adult keeps a diary? And if you did, would you use a little book and paper or would you password protect it on your iPad? Even 12 year olds know better than this. It’s just so obscenely scary that the “tree” from which these rotten apples fell, is now the “leader of the free world.” SMH!

    1. Ashely Biden is 40, as per Wikipedia. Her age is relevant enough that it should have been included in the article.

    2. As a part of rehab, most counselors recommend you start a diary to put your daily thoughts on paper. You can then discuss those thoughts with your therapist when you next meet. I suspect this is the type of diary that Ashley was keeping.

  9. That the ACLU now has concerns, is troubled, has called on the Feds to immediately suspend its review, all tell us that DOJ needs to be dismantled

    “[W]e’re concerned that the precedent set by this case could have serious consequences for press freedom. We’re deeply troubled by reports that the Department of Justice obtained secret electronic surveillance orders requiring sweeping disclosure of “all content” of communications associated with Project Veritas email accounts, including attorney-client communications.

    Compounding these concerns, the government suppressed information about the existence of the electronic surveillance orders even after the investigation became public knowledge and the district court appointed a special master to supervise prosecutors’ access to Project Veritas’ sensitive materials. The government must immediately suspend its review of the materials obtained pursuant to its electronic surveillance orders and fully disclose the extent of its actions, so that the court can consider appropriate relief.”

    https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/aclu-comment-allegations-federal-law-enforcement-secretly-accessing-project-veritas

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