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FBI alleged to have leaked Project Veritas legal memos to New York Times for 'hit piece'

Project Veritas, founded by conservative reporter James O'Keefe, was allegedly involved in the theft of President Joe Biden's daughter Ashley's diary
UPDATED NOV 12, 2021
James O'Keefe at CPAC 2020 hosted by the American Conservative Union on February 28, 2020, in National Harbor, MD. (Samuel Colvin/Getty Images)
James O'Keefe at CPAC 2020 hosted by the American Conservative Union on February 28, 2020, in National Harbor, MD. (Samuel Colvin/Getty Images)

The Department of Justice has been accused of tipping off the New York Times about recent raids on Project Veritas's current and former employees. The attorney also suggested federal prosecutors may have leaked the group's legal communications to the newspaper. Project Veritas, the undercover group founded by conservative journalist James O'Keefe, has come under the federal scanner over the alleged theft of a diary belonging to President Joe Biden's daughter Ashley.

Veritas considered publishing the diary but eventually didn't. The missing diary prompted the FBI to conduct unannounced raids at O'Keefe's New York home and those of others connected to the undercover group. Federal agents even seized the founder's cellphone among other items. The New York Times raised eyebrows when it published a report Thursday, November 11, based on memos from the group's lawyer, exposing his legal advice to them on their use of false identities and undercover recordings.


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During an interview on Fox News Thursday night, O'Keefe's attorney Harmeet Dhillon slammed the Times report as a "hit piece" and demanded to know if the DOJ had leaked the legal memos to the newspaper, which could be deemed an extraordinary and illegal move. "I can't say how the New York Times got this information, but they got it in a way that is illegal and unethical," Dhillon told Fox News. "We have a disturbing situation of the US Attorney's office or the FBI tipping off the New York Times to each of the raids on Project Veritas's current and former employees," she continued. "We know that because minutes after these raids occurred they got calls from the New York Times which was the only journalism outlet that knew about it. And they published this hit piece today, which is really despicable. I don't think I've ever seen this low from the New York Times before, to publish people's private legal communications," she added. "This is a scandal of epic proportions. Every journalist who is not worried about this should hang up their journalism card, and all First Amendment lawyers as well," Dhillon insisted.


It's unclear how the Times obtained quotes from the legal advice that attorney Benjamin Barr gave Project Veritas about the legality surrounding covert recordings and false identities in various situations and jurisdictions. One case saw him consult on a plan to use Tinder in order to "meet prospective agents of the ‘Deep State’ or those with national security clearances," in which he advised against obtaining or publishing any information related to national security. Another case saw Barr warn the group that attempting to use a false identity to enter campaign events where the Secret Service vets attendees could result in federal charges of lying to a government agent.

Attorney Dhillon later revealed that a federal court had ordered the Department of Justice to stop extracting data from O'Keefe's phone and ordered a hearing.


It's worth noting that the Times and Project Veritas have been feuding for years after the undercover group published a series of tapes of Times employees in 2017. While Veritas describes itself as a journalism outlet dedicated to leveling the playing field amid widespread liberal media bias, critics have strongly objected to the hidden camera tactics used by the group.

The FBI raided O'Keefe's home over Ashley Biden's stolen diary in an unprecedented move on Saturday, November 6. As mentioned, Project Veritas did not publish the diary, but admittedly discussed it with sources in the lead up to the 2020 election. Authorities raided O'Keefe's Westchester County residence in Mamaroneck just a day after he acknowledged that Project Veritas was being probed. 

Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe (R) holds a news conference at the National Press Club on September 1, 2015, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"I woke up to a pre-dawn raid, 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," O'Keefe told Fox News. "They confiscated my phone. They raided my apartment. On my phone were many of my reporters' notes. A lot of my sources are unrelated to this story and a lot of confidential donor information to our news organization." He added, "I've heard ''the process is the punishment.' I didn't really understand what that meant until this weekend. I wouldn't wish this on any journalist," O'Keefe said, warning that "if they can do this to me, they can do it to any journalist."