by Kyle Becker, Becker News:
The Special Master reviewing the FBI raid on Project Veritas has filed a report in the Southern District of New York.
In the court filing on Tuesday, the Special Master lays out the basic timeline of the FBI raid and the Ashley Biden diary investigation.
“On November 4 and 6, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants at the residences of three individuals affiliated with Project Veritas. The warrants were authorized by a federal magistrate judge, who found probable cause to believe that the premises and devices contained evidence of federal crimes, including conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines, interstate transportation of stolen property, and possession of stolen goods,” the report states.
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“In public filings to the Court, Petitioners, through counsel, made the following representations:
1. In September 2020, sources identified as R.K. and A.H. contacted Project Veritas to report that they found a diary authored by Ashley Biden. Motion to Appoint Special Master 3, ECF No. 1 (“S.M. Mot.”). According to the sources, Biden left the diary and other belongings behind when she moved out of a house in Delray Beach, Florida, that one of the sources subsequently occupied. Petition for Return of Property 4, ECF No. 70 (“Property Pet.”).
2. The sources described and sent images of information from the diary and offered to bring the diary and other belongings to New York. R.K. and A.H. requested payment from Project Veritas for the diary; their lawyers and Project Veritas’ lawyers negotiated an agreement for the diary to be delivered to Project Veritas. S.M. Mot.
3, ECF No. 1. The sources then traveled to New York and gave the diary and other materials to Project Veritas. Property Pet. 4, ECF No. 70.
3. Project Veritas worked to authenticate the diary and engaged a handwriting expert; it began producing a video news story. Id.
4. Project Veritas reached a Biden acquaintance who conferenced a person who identified herself as Biden. Biden stated that the belongings were hers and asked that they be delivered to a friend in Delray Beach. Id. 2 Some of the claimed attorney-client documents were identified by the filter team; others were not. Case 1:21-mc-00813-AT Document 118-3-
5. Project Veritas believed that the diary was authored by Biden and worked to finalize the news story about the diary and continued to analyze the contents of the diary. Id. at 5.
6. Petitioner O’Keefe decided against publishing the story. Id. The email explaining his decision was printed in full in a filing with the Court. Petitioners’ Letter Reply 13, ECF No. 38 (“PV Letter”).
7. Another news website ran a story about Biden’s brother which renewed Project Veritas’ efforts to investigate the diary. Property Pet. 5, ECF No. 70.
8. Project Veritas was contacted by a lawyer for Biden. Project Veritas offered to return the property to Biden if she agreed to view it personally and confirm her ownership; Biden’s lawyer refused. Id. at 5–6.
9. Project Veritas learned that another news organization had received a copy of the diary and the other news organization was concerned it was not authentic. Mr. O’Keefe again decided not to publish the story. Id. at 6.
10. Shortly thereafter, a blog published the diary; it attributed its source as a “whistleblower at another media organization that chose not to publish the diary.” Id.
11. In early November 2020, Project Veritas arranged for the delivery of the diary and other belongings to the Delray Beach, FL police department. Id. at 7. The Government, for its part, has been more circumspect in its public statements to the Court regarding the relevant factual background and its investigation. It characterized Project Veritas’ assertions as “either false or misleading and . . . directly contradicted by the evidence described in the sworn affidavits that were submitted to the federal magistrate judge in support of the search warrants.” Government’s Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Motions for Appointment of a Special Master 3, ECF No. 29.
The Special Master furthermore dismissed Project Veritas’ claims of journalistic protection under the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment.
“There is no basis to declare a First Amendment interest that affords additional protection here,” the Special Master found. “The Second Circuit has repeatedly declined to ‘wade into these constitutional waters’ absent a convincing reason, and such a reason has yet to be found. Given the judicially authorized search warrants, the government’s interest in investigating criminal conduct, and the strict procedure for avoiding intrusion into non- responsive materials, no such reason exists here.”
“Petitioners argue that they were mere recipients of information that, if stolen, would have been ‘petty theft under Florida law at worst’,” the legal filing goes on. “They argue they were engaging in ordinary newsgathering and are being targeted for their potential reporting on the daughter of the current president. Of course, those very facts are the subject of the Government’s investigation.”
The National File, which published the contents of the diary, held up the Special Master review as proof that the Ashley Biden diary is “legitimate.”