The O’Keefe Project: An update

The New York Times has now published its fourth story on the investigation of James O’Keefe and Project Vertitas in connection with their possession of the diary of Ashley Biden. The otherwise questionable authenticity of the diary can be inferred from the involvement of the FBI. It has somehow become a federal case in the Age of Biden.

Today’s story is “Project Veritas Tells Judge It Was Assured Biden Diary Was Legally Obtained.” Subhead: “But a search warrant in the case suggests the Justice Department believes the diary kept by the president’s daughter Ashley Biden was stolen.” The story is by Times reporters Michael Schmidt and Adam Goldman with the assistance of researchers Susan C. Beachy and Matthew Cullen. That amounts to four cooks in the kitchen to produce what turns out to be thin gruel.

Lawyers for Project Veritas have obtained a court order dated Novemeber 11 requiring the FBI to confirm it had “paused” extraction of contents from O’Keefe’s seized cell phones. Yesterday the Times published excerpts of memos by counsel advising Project Veritas on legal boundaries applicable to its work.

The Times was immediately tipped to the raids conducted by the FBI on O’Keefe et al. last week. The Times reported on the raids in stories here (November 5, correction appended) and here (November 6, updated November 12). The Times quotes witnesses to the raids. It leaves unmentioned any tips to the Times from the FBI or higher-ups in the world of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York or the Biden Department of Justice.

The third Times story (November 11) quotes from legal memos by attorneys advising Project Veritas. I inferred that the memos or the excerpts had been leaked to the Times by its friends in the FBI. Project Veritas attorney Harmeet Dhillon is more cautious about the source of the leak to the Times in her interview with Sebastian Gorka (video at bottom).

Today the Times updates the story with a clipped account of the legal proceedings initiated by Project Veritas:

“Project Veritas had no involvement with how those two individuals acquired the diary,” lawyers for the group said in a letter dated Wednesday to a federal judge in New York. The group’s lawyers were asking U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres for a so-called special master to determine what materials seized by federal investigators could be used as evidence in their investigation.

Using initials for the individuals who the lawyers said approached the group with the diary, the lawyers said the group’s “knowledge about how R.K. and A.H. came to possess the diary came from R.K. and A.H. themselves.”

In contrast with Project Veritas’s description in the letter of how the diary was obtained, a warrant used by federal authorities to search the home of the group’s founder, James O’Keefe, last Saturday indicated that federal authorities believed the property was stolen.

The proceedings in the case have been sealed, but a producer for Fox News provided The New York Times with a copy of the letter written by the Project Veritas lawyers and its attachments, including a copy of the search warrant. The producer was seeking comment from The Times about allegations in the letter that the Justice Department had leaked news of the searches to the Times.

The diary could have been stolen without the knowledge of Project Veritas. I gather we are to take it that Project Veritas is alleged to have participated in the theft, if that is what it was, though the writing of the Times team of reporters and researchers is opaque on this point.

FOX News media reporter Joseph Wulfsohn has a story on the legal proceedings here. The Times does not name the FOX News producer who sought comment on the apparent leak to the Times or give any clue of its response. I rashly infer that the Times declined to respond to the FOX News producer’s request for comment.

Today’s Times story continues:

Project Veritas never ended up publishing Ms. Biden’s diary. It was made public less than two weeks before the 2020 election by a right-wing website that posted several photographs of diary pages it claimed were written by Ms. Biden. The website said it had obtained the diary from a “whistle-blower” who worked for a media organization that had decided not to publish a story on the topic.

The search warrant provided some sense of the specific questions the government is seeking to answer in its investigation related to Project Veritas, which has previously said it purchased the diary.

According to the search warrant — which described Ms. Biden’s property as “stolen” — the government said it was looking for any evidence Mr. O’Keefe had about how Ms. Biden’s property was obtained and whether Ms. Biden was surveilled before the property was taken.

The government also said it was seeking any communications that the group prepared to send to Ms. Biden, Mr. Biden and others about her property.

The government said in the search warrant that among the crimes it was investigating were conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines, conspiracy to possess stolen goods and transporting stolen property across state lines.

Project Veritas has sought to portray itself as a news media organization that made a journalistic decision not to publish the diary, suggesting it is being targeted by the Biden Justice Department and that federal investigators disclosed the existence of the searches to a reporter for The Times.

The wording of the story is opaque. The Times leaves it an open issue whether Project Veritas is a news media organization and/or whether it made a journalistic decision not to publish the story.

The November 5 Times story — by four reporters and two researchers — summarizes circumstantial evidence that seems to implicate Project Veritas in the alleged theft of the diary and the publication of excerpts online last fall. That is what I make of the background provided in the story, which requires close reading as well.

I refer to Sebastian Gorka’s interview with Harmeet Dhillon above. Video of the interview is posted here and embedded below.

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