DOJ collected Project Veritas emails but didn't reveal it to federal judge overseeing case

An attorney for Project Veritas sent a letter to District Court Judge Analisa Torres accusing the Department of Justice of sidestepping her prior rulings designed to protect the journalistic and attorney-client privileges of the organization. Microsoft recently revealed that the DOJ had previously seized Project Veritas documents from a cloud account using a warrant which was not revealed to the court and which Microsoft was forbidden from revealing until recently.


At the base of all of this is the FBI investigation into how Project Veritas wound up in possession of Ashley Biden’s diary. An FBI raid of homes belonging to Project Veritas CEO James O’Keefe and two former PV journalists, resulted in the FBI seizing a number of phones, laptops, thumb drives, etc. last November. Project Veritas asked Judge Torres to appoint a Special Master to review the seized information and determine what should and should not be turned over to authorities. Judge Torres agreed and ordered everything that had been gathered turned over to the Special Master. But even after she issued that decision, the DOJ didn’t reveal the PV documents it had already collected from Microsoft and went behind Judge Torres back and the back of the Special Master she appointed to keep the previously seized documents a secret.

In pursuit of their investigation into President Biden’s adult daughter’s abandoned diary and personal belongings, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New
York, and Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Sobelman, Mitzi Steiner, and Jacqueline Kelly have proceeded with total disregard for the First Amendment and with the utmost hostility towards the free press. The pre-dawn raids at the homes of James O’Keefe (the journalist who founded Project Veritas and continues to serve as its President) and two former Project Veritas journalists enabled the government to seize journalists’ electronic devices filled with First Amendment protected materials and attorney-client privileged information. Out of respect for “any First Amendment concerns, journalistic privileges, and attorney-client privileges,” and to institute a process that would “not only be fair but also appear to be fair,” this Court granted the aggrieved journalists’ Motions to Appoint a Special Master to review the contents of the seized electronic devices before providing any materials to a government filter team, and ultimately to make privilege determinations following the aggrieved journalists’ objections.

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. This means that by the time the undersigned filed the Motion to Appoint a Special Master on November 10, 2021, the government had already seized Project Veritas’s journalistic and attorney-client privileged materials, without regard to topic or the aforementioned privileges and far outside the relevant time period.

Compounding the privilege violations arising from this invasion, the government also muzzled Microsoft with a series of non-disclosure orders, which the government sought to continue even after this Court ordered the appointment of a Special Master and after the government’s diary investigation had long been a matter of public record such that any purported grounds for the non-disclosure orders became non-existent. 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…

The government’s failure to disclose its previous invasions of Project Veritas’s privileges makes a mockery of these proceedings. While we conferred with the government and then moved for relief from the government’s seizures of journalists’ electronic devices, the government sat silent, failing to disclose that it had already obtained vast amounts of privileged materials from Microsoft. Nor, apparently, did the government inform this Court. We suspect that the government also withheld this information from Magistrate Judge Cave, from whom it obtained the search warrants to seize journalists’ electronic devices (although we cannot know, as the search warrant affidavits remain unjustifiably sealed at the time of this filing).


Clearly the FBI is heavily invested in this investigation, an investigation which seems unusual from the outset. As Jonathan Turley asked months ago, why is the FBI concerned about a personal diary anyway? The only grounds for making this a federal case is the claim that Project Veritas somehow asked for the diary to be stolen. And so far there’s no evidence to support that. However, yesterday the NY Times published another report about this case which seemed to reveal the core of the federal case:

In court filings, prosecutors have suggested that the organization was complicit in the theft of some of Ms. Biden’s other belongings, which interviews show the group obtained as it was seeking to confirm the diary’s authenticity…

Project Veritas had to confront tricky questions: Was the diary really Ashley Biden’s, and not a fake or a setup? How could Project Veritas, best known for its undercover sting operations, be sure it was not a victim of its own deceptive tactics?..

“The sources arranged to meet the Project Veritas journalist in Florida soon thereafter to give the journalist additional abandoned items,” lawyers for the group wrote in a federal court filing…

But at least one of the “sources” told others that a Project Veritas operative had asked them whether they could retrieve more items from the home that could help show that the diary belonged to Ms. Biden, according to a person with knowledge of the exchange. Additional items were then taken out of the home and given to the operative, one of the sources has told others.


So that appears to be the core of the federal case. Project Veritas had nothing to do with the initial taking of the diary but in seeking to determine if it was real they allegedly asked if there were other items from the house that would prove it belonged to Ashley Biden. And that, according to the feds, was tantamount to breaking and entering.

I guess we’ll have to see if investigators can prove James O’Keefe ordered these additional items Ashley Biden left behind were “stolen” but even if they can it seems like a pretty thin grounds for an investigation that has been going on for months using up lots or resources, time and tax dollars. More valuable items are stolen every day from any number of people living in San Francisco, for instance, sometimes so they can be sold across state lines on Amazon or eBay, but the FBI isn’t devoting this much time to those individual cases.

It’s impossible to believe any of it would be happening if the owner of the diary weren’t the president’s daughter which makes the whole thing appear blatantly political. Here’s the PV video report on this.

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