The O’Keefe Project: Josh Gerstein reports

The New York Times has run four stories on the FBI raids predicated on the alleged theft of Ashley Biden’s diary. The FBI has executed two raids on James O’Keefe and others associated with Project Veritas in the case.

O’Keefe says Project Veritas was never able to authenticate the diary and that it had nothing to do with its theft, if that is what it was. We can infer that the FBI has authenticated it, but we remain unsure how its theft became a federal case. Despite the numerous reporters and researchers the the Times has lavished on its four stories, the details remain opaque in critical respects.

We learned from the fourth Times story that both FOX News and the Times now have a copy of the FBI search warrant — the Times got it courtesy of FOX News — but we have yet to see the warrant ourselves. FOX News asked the Times for a comment on the allegations of O’Keefe’s counsel that the Times was tipped to the raids. What did the Times say? They don’t tell us. As I say, the stories are opaque in critical respects.

Over the weekend Project Veritas emailed out Josh Gerstein’s Politico story on the FBI’s raids. Gerstein’s story takes up the aspect of the case that implicates press freedom. Gerstein’s story suggests that he too has reviewed the search warrant (e.g., “Some language in the warrant suggests prosecutors are examining whether a bidding process for the diary violated laws against fencing stolen items”). Gerstein has also reviewed relevant emails:

Emails obtained by POLITICO show prosecutors declined to tell Calli whether the Project Veritas searches were approved by a Justice Department committee that oversees investigations impacting the news media.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment on the office’s handling of the inquiry. A Justice Department spokesperson also declined comment.

One can hardly imagine the firestorm that would arise if the Times were treated like Project Veritas. Coincidentally, I wrote about the First Amendment issues that are routinely raised by the conduct of the Times itself in the 2006 Weekly Standard column “Exposure,” which cites the unnamed Supreme Court case to which Gerstein alludes in his story. They are the same issues in play here. In any event, I recommend Gerstein’s story for readers interested in this aspect of the case.

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