Over the years, mostly in connection with the Trump/Russia collusion hoax, I have had many occasions to cover what I have considered to be wrongful — indeed clearly criminal — conduct by the FBI. To give just a few examples, there was the 2016 application for a FISA warrant against Carter Page (three times renewed) based on knowingly false information; the 2017 set-up of Michael Flynn; and then-Director Comey’s blatant lies to President Trump in early 2017 about what the FBI was up to. Or go to this link for a long litany of wrongful FBI and DOJ conduct.
The problem with all of this, of course, is that the FBI completely undermines its own mission when it engages in such conduct. As I wrote at that last link in December 2017:
[Y]ou would be out of your mind ever to cooperate in any way with these guys. And so would everybody else in this country. And thus, the FBI and Justice are totally undermining their own effectiveness as law enforcement institutions.
So with all that has now come out about the FBI’s sordid and criminal role in the Trump/Russia matter, do you think that the people at the Bureau would be at least a little chastened? Don’t be ridiculous. Indeed, they have every reason to have learned the opposite lesson. With more than five years having passed since the launch of the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation (i.e., spying on the Trump presidential campaign), most statutes of limitations have expired without any of the main perpetrators getting charged. The sole FBI guy who has taken a plea (lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, for altering an email submitted as part of one of the later FISA applications) was sentenced in January 2021 to mere probation (that is, no jail time). The New York Times quotes the sentencing judge, James Boasberg, as follows:
“Anybody who has watched what Mr. Clinesmith has suffered is not someone who will readily act in that fashion,” Judge Boasberg said. “Weighing all of these factors together — both in terms of the damages he caused and what he has suffered and the positives in his own life — I believe a probationary sentence is appropriate here and will therefore impose it.”
Well boo-hoo. Believe me, if it had been you, you would have gotten multiple years in the slammer.
And now, over the past few days, we learn about another round of blatant and egregious FBI misconduct. This time the target is not an opposing political campaign, but it is nevertheless a clear political enemy, namely Project Veritas and its head, James O’Keefe. For those who may be unfamiliar with Project Veritas, they specialize in making undercover videos intended to expose and embarrass various people on the left or in the government. For example, one of their notable projects involved videos of CNN staffers talking among themselves about their agenda to “get Trump out of office”; another involves insiders discussing risks of the Covid vaccines.
The recent events started to come to light last Sunday (November 7) when legal blogger Jonathan Turley took note of highly unusual raids on Project Veritas offices by the FBI, with a very bizarre basis. The raids had occurred two days before, Friday, November 5. Turley:
There is a curious story out this weekend on reported FBI raids of writers or associates of Project Veritas, the conservative investigative journalism outfit. Project Veritas has been described variously as “Gonzo” or “guerilla” journalism and some insist it is more of a political than a press organization. However, it fits the definition of journalism, in my view, and that makes the raids troubling.
Not only was it highly unusual for the FBI to raid journalists at all, but the supposed basis for this raid made the event even more dubious and more obviously political. According to a New York Times report on November 6, the FBI was supposedly looking for information about how portions of a missing diary of President Biden’s daughter Ashley came to be published a year ago, shortly before the 2020 election:
The Justice Department searched two locations associated with the conservative group Project Veritas as part of an investigation into how a diary stolen from President Biden’s daughter, Ashley, came to be publicly disclosed a week and a half before the 2020 presidential election, according to people briefed on the matter.
By the way, the disclosure of the contents of the diary in 2020 was not done by Project Veritas. According to a statement released by O’Keefe, Project Veritas had been given a copy of the diary by some kind of tipster (or maybe a thief), but had been unable to verify it sufficiently, and had declined to publish it. But more important, since when does the FBI have any interest in missing diaries leaked to journalists? This is more or less the core business of the New York Times and Washington Post. Do they ever get raided by the FBI? And why is this happening a year after the fact?
Next, the FBI raided O’Keefe’s home at about 6 AM on Saturday November 6. O’Keefe went on Sean Hannity’s program on November 9 to describe the event:
Banging on my door, I went to my door to answer the door and there were ten FBI agents with a battering ram, white blinding lights, they turned me around, handcuffed me and threw me against the hallway. I was partially clothed in front of my neighbors. They confiscated my phone. They raided my apartment. On my phone were many of my reporters' notes. A lot of my sources, unrelated to this story, and a lot of confidential donor information to our news organization.
The phone and other materials seized from O’Keefe and Project Veritas contained information that was not just confidential, but privileged. For example, they contained extensive information about Project Veritas’s communications with its lawyers to be sure that it remained in compliance with applicable laws in its activities. Well, that should be no problem, because the FBI and Justice Department are under strict legal obligation to keep confidential everything about their ongoing investigations. Right?
Wrong. The FBI is a lawless and fundamentally criminal organization. Being under no illusions as to what was about to happen, Project Veritas immediately sent its lawyers into court and came away yesterday with an order from Judge Analisa Torres in the Southern District of New York to the FBI to “pause its extraction and review of the contents of Petitioner O’Keefe’s phones.”
But you can now guess what happened next. The criminals at the FBI, for whom legal obligations and criminal laws are only for the little people, had already gone through the phones, found the good stuff, and leaked the contents to the New York Times. And thus this morning, despite yesterday’s court order, we find on page B-1 of the Times (front page of the Business section) an article spilling every bean they can find worth spilling from O’Keefe’s phone(s). The headline in the print edition is “Is It Journalism or Political Spycraft?” Online, it’s “Project Veritas and the Line Between Journalism and Political Spying.” Excerpt:
Documents show how the conservative group worked with lawyers to gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices could go before running afoul of federal laws. . . . Project Veritas has long occupied a gray area between investigative journalism and political spying, and internal documents obtained by The New York Times reveal the extent to which the group has worked with its lawyers to gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices can go before running afoul of federal laws.
Clearly, neither the FBI nor its criminal co-conspirator the New York Times has any respect whatsoever for the attorney-client privilege of Project Veritas. The core of the Times article is an effort somehow to spin the act of consulting with counsel to be sure you are complying with the law into something nefarious. That and repeating the phrase “deceptive reporting practices” several times in the hope that eventually you will believe it. They never give an example of what they call the “deceptive reporting.” Since Project Veritas largely engages in reporting by undercover videos, it is hard to pin a charge of “deception” on them, but then the New York Times doesn’t ever deal with an actual instance, and just throws around the phrase.
Anyway, this story continues to develop. Obviously, my advice to never, ever co-operate with the FBI remains more firmly in place than ever.