DOJ accused of spying on journalists and HIDING demands from federal judge

By Bob Unruh

A U.S. Marine scans for simulated targets during an exercise in Setermoen, Norway, March 7, 2022, as part of Cold Response, a readiness and defense exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. William Chockey)
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. William Chockey)

The U.S. Department of Justice, which under Barack Obama and his then-vice president, Joe Biden, became an integral part of the campaign to spy on the Donald Trump political campaign in 2016 by participating in the “Russia collusion” conspiracy theory created by the Democrats, now has put investigative journalists in its bull’s-eye.

And it has been accused of violating the U.S. Constitution in its actions.

Project Veritas, which has uncovered dozens of instances of misbehavior in government and elsewhere through its undercover videos, including in just recent weeks electioneering in New York City, a New York Times reporter’s confession that the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was “no big deal,” and that the so-called “pee tape” that Democrats claimed implicated President Trump did not exist, has released a statement charging the DOJ with not only spying on the organization, but strategizing to keep its information demands secret and even hiding its work from a federal judge.

The Project Veritas charges:

The organization, launched and still led by James O’Keefe, confirmed that documents it has obtained, from Microsoft Corp. and elsewhere, confirm that Biden’s DOJ “filed a series of secret warrants, orders, and a subpoena to surreptitiously collect privileged, and constitutionally protected, communications and contacts of eight Project Veritas journalists.”

The organization explains it has evidence the DOJ “then muzzled Microsoft from disclosing these orders via a series of secrecy orders signed by magistrates.”

Further, “the DOJ then went behind U.S. District Court Judge, Analisa Torres’, back to obtain extensions on the gag-orders on Microsoft from magistrate judges after Judge Torres ruled Project Veritas was entitled to ‘journalistic privileges,'” the organization revealed.

Project Veritas principals recently were subjected to searches of their homes and their electronic devices because of the controversy over a diary abandoned by Ashley Biden, Joe Biden’s daughter, and what it allegedly said.

PV was offered access to the diary, which Ashley Biden abandoned in a friend’s home, and began doing some basic research to test its authenticity. However, it never made use of the information it contained.

If fact, it offered the diary to law enforcement officers.

Nevertheless, Biden’s DOJ launched early morning raids on PV principals, taking away computers and phones and more.

As part of that dispute, Torres appointed Special Master Judge Barbara Jones to review materials that the DOJ had taken, to protect the journalists’ constitutional rights.

Instead, PV charged, the DOJ already had set up what now is a 16-month-long “clandestine campaign against journalists,” using seven secret orders, warrants and subpoenas from six magistrates in New York.

Project Veritas lawyer Paul Calli described the DOJ attack on Project Veritas as “violence” to the First Amendment.

“By the time [Project 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,” Calli told the court in a filing.

Based on preliminary research data, prosecutors in New York appear “to be in possession of nearly 150K documents they should not have. In addition to the emails, the SDNY obtained over one thousand contacts from journalists that they also failed to disclose to Judge Torres or to the special master,” his filing explained.

The journalists now want an order telling the DOJ to stop any review of the “surreptitiously obtained emails,” and to “disclose other hidden spying campaigns executed against the non-profit’s journalists.”

Calli continued, “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.”

Among the targets of the federal prosecutors were “every email sent to or from Project Veritas founder and CEO, James O’Keefe, for a three-month period, along with every contact he had ever saved.”

Through that, the DOJ took for itself “unsupervised and unfettered access to … privileged communications with his attorneys and notes to and from O’Keefe’s confidential sources, among other constitutionally protected communications.”

O’Keefe’s organization explained the DOJ convinced “a rotating cadre of magistrates” to grant “unchecked access” to the private information.

The DOJ, at that time, was claiming, “there is probable cause to believe the email account(s), maintained at premises controlled by Microsoft Corporation, USA, contain evidence, fruits, and instrumentalities of crime.”

The demands for private information were accompanied by a Non-Disclosure Order barring Microsoft from letting anyone else know about the more than year-long spy campaign.

It claimed, “without evidence” according to PV, that such evidence might be destroyed.

The orders for secrecy recently began expiring, and the DOJ demanded from various magistrates unaware of Torres’ orders for a special master review of information that they be renewed.

The fiasco became public because Microsoft argued in court that there was no evidence of a threat that evidence would be destroyed and it was given permission to provide notification of the spy campaign.

Explained Project Veritas, “The SDNY’s spying campaign represents the latest example of governmental misconduct in a seemingly politically motivated investigation by President Biden’s Department of Justice into Project Veritas’ news-gathering activities surrounding allegations against then-candidate, Joe Biden, made by his daughter, Ashley Biden, in her diary.”

It continued, “Though Project Veritas ultimately did not publish the allegations in the diary, it attempted to corroborate the allegations by requesting comment from Mr. Biden and his daughter, whose attorney, Roberta Kaplan, reacted by saying, ‘We should send [the request for comment] to [the] SDNY.’ The SDNY appears to have been doing Ms. Biden’s bidding ever since with little to no oversight beyond what appear to be judicial rubber-stamps from magistrates not fully briefed on the matter by the SDNY. ”

In his 45-page filing, Calli pointed out government operators “sat silent,” refusing to disclose they already had taken privileged materials from the journalists even while discussing access to the journalists privileged materials.

The spying, in fact, started eight months before PV had even heard of the Ashley Biden diary.”

He wrote, “The fact that the government secretly obtained emails from three different Project Veritas journalists dating from eight months prior to the newsgathering conduct that the government is scrutinizing shocks the conscience. This was eight full months of journalist communications that have no bearing whatsoever on the non-crime that the government is investigating herein, but the government has presumably put its prying eyes on them anyway.”

The filing said, “Because Project Veritas researched a potential news story about what Ashley Biden’s diary recounted about her father, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has launched a retributive campaign that does violence to the First Amendment. As far as we know, federal law enforcement has never before investigated an abandoned diary. Moreover, the government’s diary investigation has included extreme measures that violate the First Amendment and corrode freedom of the press. The litigation before this Court began when the government searched journalists’ homes and seized electronic devices containing privileged materials. 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 it had already obtained the contents of privileged emails from Microsoft. The government concealed its past privilege invasions through unjustified 18 U.S.C. § 2705(b) Orders, which it moved to extend even while the Special Master litigation was pending. These abuses of power must not go unpunished. The free press must not go unprotected.”

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