How exactly did the NY Times know about the FBI raid at James O’Keefe’s house within minutes of it happening? More to the point, how did they gain access to communications between O’Keefe and his attorneys for a story published last week: [emphasis added]
Project Veritas has long occupied a gray area between investigative journalism and political spying, and internal documents obtained by The New York Times reveal the extent to which the group has worked with its lawyers to gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices can go before running afoul of federal laws.
According to O’Keefe’s attorney, that information may have come from his phone which the FBI seized during the raid at his house.
On Monday, Calli Law, defense attorneys for O’Keefe, fired off an email to Judge Analisa Torres claiming that “government leaks plague the government’s diary investigation,” noting that the Times published legal compliance memoranda believed to be on the seized phones.
The email to Torres is replete with accusations of leaks to Times reporters Michael Schmidt, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti, and it demands that officials “inform the court if the government—including the FBI or any other governmental agency—leaked Project Veritas’s attorney-client privileged memoranda to the New York Times,” and that they “identify who at the government is responsible for the previous leaks.”
“Our concern about such leaks is heightened because the New York Times is Project Veritas’s adversary in pending civil litigation—Project Veritas sued the New York Times in Supreme Court, Westchester County, and has defeated the New York Times’ motion to dismiss,” reads the email obtained by Newsweek…
Last week, a U.S. District Court ordered that “the government shall confirm via email that it has paused its extraction and review of the contents of Petitioner O’Keefe’s phones.” The order could be seen as a potential precursor to agreeing with attorney Paul Calli’s request for the court to “appoint a special master to review the phone’s contents.”
The fact that the NY Times has known every move the FBI made in this case suggests someone is leaking information and that makes the possibility that the documents also came from the FBI seem more plausible, though that should be a firing offense. The other alternative, at least the only other one I can think of, is that the Times is getting information from a former PV journalist. That would help explain how the Times has access to memos from the group’s attorney. PV seems to have had a series of people on its payroll for various undercover stings and not all of them have left on good terms.
What’s sketchy about all of this is that the Times is currently being sued by Project Veritas, so it’s impossible to miss the potential self-interest in publicly undermining them. The fact that the Times and the FBI both are focused on PV at the same moment because of a diary the group claims it got from a third party looks like overkill. This is a lot of big guns turning out over what is, at worst, a petty theft. The situation doesn’t seem to raise any concerns for the NY Times but even the ACLU has put out a statement about the FBI raid:
Project Veritas has engaged in disgraceful deceptions, and reasonable observers might not consider their activities to be journalism at all. Nevertheless, the precedent set in this case could have serious consequences for press freedom. Unless the government had good reason to believe that Project Veritas employees were directly involved in the criminal theft of the diary, it should not have subjected them to invasive searches and seizures. We urge the court to appoint a special master to ensure that law enforcement officers review only those materials that were lawfully seized and that are directly relevant to a legitimate criminal investigation.
Yesterday the Committee to Protect Journalists also issued a statement of concern:
“While we do not endorse some of the tactics Project Veritas employs, the FBI’s recent raids on the organization’s founder and his associates represent a concerning overreach by law enforcement,” said CPJ U.S. and Canada Program Coordinator Katherine Jacobsen. “The government must provide a clear link between members of Project Veritas and alleged criminal activity before searching their homes for information about source material. Conducting raids without this kind of link sets a dangerous precedent that could allow law enforcement to search and confiscate reporters’ unpublished source material in vague attempts to identify whistleblowers.”
We obviously don’t know all of the evidence the FBI has in this case, but from the outside it looks like a pretty unusual circumstance to have the Biden DOJ pursuing an journalist critical of his administration over a diary Project Veritas never published. The FBI is claiming stolen property was transported across state lines which gives them the option to make a federal case out of this, but unless there’s evidence PV stole the diary or asked someone to steal it, they’re not responsible.