NEW YORK (LifeSiteNews) — The Biden administration relied on secret warrants withheld from a federal judge to spy on the conservative journalists of Project Veritas, according to documents released Tuesday by Veritas.
In November 2021, the FBI raided the homes of current and former Veritas journalists in a search ostensibly for a diary that may have been owned by presidential daughter Ashley Biden. The group’s founder, James O’Keefe, said they were given the diary late in the 2020 presidential campaign but opted not to pursue the story since its authenticity could not be verified. Veritas never reported on the book’s contents, and O’Keefe maintains that Biden family representatives declined their offer to return the diary (which would have confirmed it belonged to Ashley Biden), so the group gave it to law enforcement.
That month, The New York Times published an article accusing Veritas of occupying a “gray area between investigative journalism and political spying,” and purports to back up that thesis by citing “internal documents,” including “a series of memos written by the group’s lawyer” regarding how to ensure its undercover operations, which entail journalists misrepresenting themselves and surreptitiously recording subjects, remain on the right side of the law.
The Times’ publication of privileged attorney-client communications sparked outrage among conservative legal analysts, as well as disturbing questions as to how The New York Times obtained those communications in the first place, with many suspecting the FBI leaked them after acquiring them during the raid.
The next month, U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres ordered the appointment of a “special master” to review the devices seized by the FBI, agreeing that the matter posed “potential First Amendment concerns.”
This week, Veritas reported that documents obtained from Microsoft reveal that President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained seven secret orders, warrants, and subpoenas from six Southern District of New York (SDNY) magistrates over a 16-month period, which it did not disclose to Torres or the special master she appointed, Judge Barbara Jones.
The documents also reveal that the DOJ “went behind [Torres’] back to obtain extensions on the gag orders on Microsoft,” and that it did not seek approval from Jones to review the material on Veritas it had obtained, according to Veritas. The group estimates that the government is improperly in possession of almost 150,000 documents, as well as more than a thousand undisclosed contacts from journalists.
“By the time [Veritas] filed the Motion to Appoint a Special Master, the government already had the opportunity to review Project Veritas’ journalistic and attorney-client privileged materials,” Veritas attorney Paul Calli said. “While the Special Master litigation proceeded, the government apparently misled the Court by omission, failing to inform it, and failing to inform the aggrieved journalists, that the government had already obtained the contents of privileged emails from Project Veritas’ cloud computing provider.”
The report explains that the DOJ apparently argued there was “probable cause to believe the email account(s), maintained at premises controlled by Microsoft Corporation, USA, contain evidence, fruits, and instrumentalities of crime,” thereby justifying Non-Disclosure Orders (NDO) prohibiting Microsoft from notifying Veritas journalists that their accounts were under surveillance, lest the evidence be destroyed.
Microsoft themselves reportedly pushed back on this pretext in a “scathing” unfiled motion, which got the DOJ to relent and allow Microsoft to notify the conservative journalists.
Project Veritas, which specializes in undercover videos targeting various left-wing political and media institutions, has been a recurring target over the years of Democrats and their allies due to the revelations of its investigations, from the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and radicalism in public education, to election fraud in government agencies, to dishonesty and bias in mainstream press giants.