June 24, 2024
Obama Judge Rejects O’Keefe’s 1st Amendment Claim in Blow to Press Freedoms

Obama Judge Rejects O’Keefe’s 1st Amendment Claim in Blow to Press Freedoms

(Headline USA) If the parties were switched, and the outlet were the New York Times against any Republican administration, the scandalous Justice Department raid on Project Veritas would undoubtedly have resulted in a case on par with Daniel Ellsberg’s landmark fight to leak the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration.

The conservative group obtained an abandoned diary, confirmed to be that of President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley, which she left in a halfway house while recovering from drug addiction.

In it, she confessed to her own hypersexualized nature and blamed her father, in part, for things such as “inappropriate” showers that the two took together when she was an older child.

Criminal prosecutors may soon get to see over 900 documents pertaining to the diary after a far-left Manhattan judge appointed by former President Barack Obama rejected the First Amendment claim from the conservative group and its former leader, James O’Keefe.

Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said on behalf of the nonprofit Monday that attorneys are considering appealing last Thursday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan. In the written decision, the judge said the documents can be given to investigators by Jan. 5.

The documents were produced from raids that were authorized in November 2021. Electronic devices were also seized from the residences of three members of Project Veritas—including two mobile phones from the home of O’Keefe, the group’s founder, who subsequently parted ways with it for unrelated reasons amid questions over the finances.

Project Veritas, founded in 2010, is best known for conducting hidden camera stings that have embarrassed left-leaning news outlets, labor organizations and Democratic politicians.

Lawyers for Project Veritas and O’Keefe said the government’s investigation “seems undertaken not to vindicate any real interests of justice, but rather to stifle the press from investigating the President’s family” in written arguments.

“It is impossible to imagine the government investigating an abandoned diary (or perhaps the other belongings left behind with it), had the diary not been written by someone with the last name ‘Biden,’” they added.

The judge rejected the First Amendment arguments, claiming in the ruling that they were “inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent.”

Torres also ruled that Project Veritas could not say it was protecting the identity of a confidential source from public disclosure after two individuals publicly pleaded guilty in the case.

She was referencing the August 2022 guilty pleas of Aimee Harris and Robert Kurlander to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property. Both await sentencing.

The pleas came two years after Harris and Kurlander—two Florida residents who are not employed by Project Veritas—discovered items including a diary at a Delray Beach, Florida, house.

They said they initially hoped to sell some of the stolen property to then-President Donald Trump’s campaign, but a representative turned them down and told them to take the material to the FBI, prosecutors say.

Project Veritas subsequently released audio of Ashley Biden herself calling in an effort to reclaim the items, thereby confirming that they belonged to her.

Eventually, Project Veritas paid the pair $20,000 apiece to deliver the diary containing “highly personal entries,” a digital storage card with private family photos, tax documents, clothes and luggage to New York, prosecutors said.

Project Veritas was not charged with any crime. The group has said its activities were newsgathering and were ethical and legal.

Lichtman said in an email on behalf of Project Veritas and the people whose residences were raided: “As for the continued investigation, the government isn’t seeking any prison time for either defendant who claims to have stolen the Ashley Biden diary, which speaks volumes in our minds.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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