Turley: Why is the FBI investigating the theft of a diary?

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Good question. It goes right along with the good question of why the Department of Justice wanted to probe parental behavior at local school board meetings, which at worst should have only interested local law enforcement. Even if said diary belonged to the adult daughter of a presidential candidate, Jonathan Turley wrote yesterday, what federal statute gives the FBI jurisdiction to raid Project Veritas and James O’Keefe’s home over it?

Let’s start with the Friday afternoon news dump about the raids from the New York Times:

The Justice Department searched two locations associated with the conservative group Project Veritas as part of an investigation into how a diary stolen from President Biden’s daughter, Ashley, came to be publicly disclosed a week and a half before the 2020 presidential election, according to people briefed on the matter.

Federal agents in New York conducted the court-ordered searches on Thursday — one in New York City and one in suburban Westchester County — targeting people who had worked with the group and its leader, James O’Keefe, according to two of the people briefed on the events. The investigation is being handled by F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors in Manhattan who work on public corruption matters, the people said. …

The Trump administration Justice Department, then led by Attorney General William P. Barr, opened an investigation into the matter shortly after a representative of the Biden family reported to federal authorities in October 2020 that several of Ms. Biden’s personal items had been stolen in a burglary, according to two people briefed on the matter.

“Public corruption” seems to be doing a lot of heavy lifting in this case, unless the implication is that Ashley Biden herself is under investigation. Project Veritas is not a “public” institution, and neither is National File, the site that eventually published some of the diary material to a massive collective yawn. (Seriously, who thought this was of any interest?) The federal government’s legitimate interest and jurisdiction in “public corruption” is limited to public officials and interstate operations of corruption — not to journalists who might publish embarrassing material about public figures.

James O’Keefe made that same point after the FBI executed the raids:

“It appears the Southern District of New York now has journalists in their sights for the supposed crime of doing their jobs lawfully and honestly,” Mr. O’Keefe said, referring to federal prosecutors in Manhattan. “Our efforts were the stuff of responsible, ethical journalism and we are in no doubt that Project Veritas acted properly at each and every step.”

Project Veritas did not publish Ms. Biden’s diary, but dozens of handwritten pages from it were posted on a right wing website on Oct. 24, 2020, at a time when President Donald J. Trump was seeking to undermine Mr. Biden’s credibility by portraying his son, Hunter, as engaging in corrupt business dealings. The posting was largely ignored by other conservative outlets and the mainstream media.

The website said it had obtained the diary from a whistle-blower who worked for a media organization that refused to publish a story about it before the election. It claimed to know where the actual diary was located and that the whistle-blower had an audio recording of Ms. Biden admitting it was hers.

Well, the investigation itself more or less authenticates the material. If it was a fake, no one would be investigating it as a burglary or as “public corruption.”

My friend John Hinderaker at Power Line has more on the provenance of the diary, as well as O’Keefe’s lack of interest in it:

The diary dates to 2019, when Ashley was in a drug rehab facility. It left her possession under circumstances that are not clear. Someone offered it to Project Veritas, saying that Ashley had left it in a room at, if I understand correctly, the rehab facility. Ashley evidently maintains that it was stolen.

James O’Keefe says that Project Veritas looked into the matter but was unable to confirm the authenticity of the document. He says that he offered it to Ashley’s lawyers, but they wouldn’t take it, so he turned it over to law enforcement. In any event, Project Veritas never did anything to make its contents public. …

I briefly scanned the diary. It contains Ashley’s name, and on its face is consistent with various known facts about her. It contains no serious bombshells about Joe, but it does make him and his family look bad in much the same way as Hunter Biden’s escapades (although without the financial corruption). I don’t recommend reading it and certainly would not myself publish it for any perceived news value. It is personal and highly embarrassing, obviously not meant for anyone else’s eyes.

But an FBI investigation? A year after the diary disappeared and was published? Since when is the alleged theft of a woman’s diary a federal crime? Let alone a federal crime that warrants investigation by the FBI?

Turley reminded readers yesterday of a fact that the Department of Justice seems to have forgotten. The FBI is not a “national police force,” but instead an agency with a restricted portfolio and limited jurisdiction. More to the point for media outlets sleeping on this story, Turley argues that the raids should raise a number of questions at every television station and newspaper.

Turley helpfully supplies them:

  1. What was the context for the diary’s loss? (Did Ashley Biden leave the diary in a room or was it stolen?)
  2. What is the alleged federal crime (and what is the precedent for a major federal investigation over such an alleged theft)?
  3. What precautions were taken by the Biden Administration in light of the claimed media status of the targeted individuals?
  4. Why was there a delay in this action being taken if the alleged theft occurred a year ago?
  5. Has this matter been under investigation for a year and did the White House request the intervention of the FBI?

In light of Merrick Garland’s “domestic terrorism” claim with school-board strife, the latter seems most apposite. It sure seems awwwwfuuuuullllyyy convenient that this investigation just so happened to target an organization that has been a gadfly to this president’s party and progressive allies. And that’s even more troubling since Project Veritas never used the material in the first place.

Back to John for the big question:

The FBI’s once-stellar reputation has been badly tarnished in recent years, and many millions of Americans now see the Bureau as a politicized agency that has become, in important ways, an arm of the Democratic Party. The Case of the Missing Diary may be trivial in itself, but the fact that the FBI is now executing search warrants on the homes of political opponents of the Biden administration, with no national interest at stake other than the reputation of the Biden family, lends support to that suspicion.

If this problem exists, it’s clearly located above the FBI. I’m old enough to recall when the media hyperventilated about “the politicization of the Department of Justice” during the leadership of Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr. Now that the DoJ is raiding media outlets over dumb scoops that they never actually ran, the silence of the media solons is deafening … and indicting as to their own politicization.

Update: Welcome back, Bongino Report readers!