Everyone who said that executing a warrant on Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe for crimes related to Ashley Biden's stolen diary was a gross infringement of freedom of the press can sit the fuck down forever.
Oh, we know it wasn't you guys, of course. But those people know who they are, and they should perhaps wait to speculate about jackbooted thugs arresting journalists until they've seen the actual warrant. Which they haven't, because it remains under seal. Also, JAMES O'KEEFE IS NOT A GODDAMN JOURNALIST.
But the New York Times did some good old shoe leather reporting and it turns out that this may not be a freedom of the press issue at all. Yeah, BIG SHOCK that a guy who tried to clandestinely record a reporter having sex on a dildo lube boat and was later convicted of sneaking into the office of a sitting senator dressed as a telephone repair man might get up to some shady, illegal shit.
According to the Times, Ashley Biden, who has struggled with addiction, left a duffel bag of personal belongings in a house in Delray Beach, Florida. She'd been living there in early 2020 and intended to return to the rental home in November, but in the interim, the friend she'd been staying with rented a room out to Aimee Harris, a Trump supporter. Harris allegedly opened the bag and discovered that Biden had left behind a diary written during a stint in rehab in 2019.
As the Times puts it, "Exactly what happened next remains the subject of the federal investigation." By some as yet unclear string of events, Project Veritas came into possession of the diary through Harris, her friend Robert Kurlander — a "self described venture capitalist" and also a felon — and Trump donor Elizabeth Fago, all of whom have been scrutinized in the investigation.
O'Keefe and Project Veritas have claimed all along that they believed the diary was "abandoned property." Here's how they describe the transaction in a court filing.
R.K. and A.H. through their lawyers requested payment from Project Veritas for contributing the diary for potential publication. As described by these individuals, the diary appeared to be newsworthy. R.K. and A.H.’s lawyers negotiated an arm’s length agreement with two of Project Veritas’s in-house lawyers, wherein R.K. and A.H. reaffirmed that they had come to possess the diary lawfully. Pursuant to that agreement, R.K. and A.H delivered the diary and other materials reportedly abandoned by Ms. Biden to Project Veritas.
According to the Times, O'Keefe decided not to publish it, worrying that doing so would be “characterized as a cheap shot,” but another website did put the whole thing online before the election, claiming to have come into possession of it through another outlet which declined to make it public.
But it doesn't take a lot of squinting to see what O'Keefe did next as verging on extortionate:
On Oct. 16, 2020, Project Veritas wrote to Mr. Biden and his campaign that it had obtained a diary Ms. Biden had “abandoned” and wanted to question Mr. Biden on camera about its contents that referred specifically to him.
“Should we not hear from you by Tuesday, October 20, 2020, we will have no choice but to act unilaterally and reserve the right to disclose that you refused our offer to provide answers to the questions raised by your daughter,” Project Veritas’ chief legal officer, Jered T. Ede, wrote.
In response, Ms. Biden’s lawyers accused Project Veritas of threatening them as part of “extortionate effort to secure an interview” with Mr. Biden in the campaign’s closing days.
Ms. Biden’s lawyers refused to acknowledge whether the diary belonged to Ms. Biden but told Mr. Ede that Project Veritas should treat it as stolen property — the lawyers suggested that “serious crimes” might have been committed — and that any suggestion that the diary was abandoned was “ludicrous.”
There's a word for threatening to disclose damaging information if someone won't do something you ask. It's on the tip of our tongues ...
FWIW, here's how O'Keefe described those same events:
Despite an internal belief that the diary was genuine, Mr. O’Keefe and Project Veritas could not sufficiently satisfy themselves with the diary’s authenticity such that publishing a news story about it would meet ethical standards of journalism.
After Project Veritas decided not to run a story on the diary, Project Veritas’s General Counsel attempted to return the diary to Ms. Biden and her lawyer. Ms. Biden’s lawyer, however, declined to confirm whether the diary belonged to Ms. Biden. Accordingly, in November 2020, Project Veritas arranged for the delivery of the diary and other materials provided by R.K. and A.H. to local law enforcement in Florida.
Funny thing about interactions with cops, though, is that they're often recorded, in this case by an officer's body worn camera. Which is how the Delray Beach Police Department (and the New York Times) know that a lawyer named Adam Leo Bantner II showed up with Ashley Biden's duffel bag on November 8, less than 24 hours after President Biden had been declared the winner, and unceremoniously dumped Ashley Biden's stuff on the cops.
Project Veritas has said in court filings that it was assured by the people who sold Ms. Biden’s items to the group that they were abandoned rather than stolen.
But the police report said that Mr. Bantner’s client had told him that the property was “possibly stolen” and “he got it from an unknown person at a hotel.”
The video footage, which appears to be a partial account of the encounter, records Mr. Bantner describing the bags as “crap.” The officer can be heard telling Mr. Bantner that he is going to throw the bags in the garbage because the officer did not have any “information” or “proof of evidence.“
Well, okay then.
On top of all this clusterfuckery, the Times and O'Keefe are currently embroiled in trench warfare litigation on multiple fronts. We wrote it all up for you last month, but TLDR: O'Keefe has sued the paper for defamation for articles casting doubt on Veritas videos which purported to show rampant ballot fraud to help Rep. Ilhan Omar win reelection in 2020 — after winning with 78 percent of the vote in 2018. O'Keefe has also secured an injunction in state court to prevent the Times from publishing any further Project Veritas attorney-client communications it obtained from an unnamed source. O'Keefe accuses the government of leaking the documents to the Times, claiming that the only possible source could have been his phone, which was seized when the FBI executed the warrant.
And if you can't take James O'Keefe's word for it ...
Follow Liz Dye on Twitter RIGHT HERE!
Please click here to support your Wonkette. And if you're ordering your quarantine goods on Amazon, this is the link to do it.