FBI searches Project Veritas personnel in investigation into Ashley Biden’s stolen diary

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James O'Keefe, an American conservative political activist and founder of Project Veritas, meets with supporters during the Conservative Political Action Conference 2020 (CPAC) hosted by the American Conservative Union on February 28, 2020 in National Harbor, MD.  ((Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images))
James O'Keefe, an American conservative political activist and founder of Project Veritas, meets with supporters during the Conservative Political Action Conference 2020 (CPAC) hosted by the American Conservative Union on February 28, 2020 in National Harbor, MD. ((Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images))

The FBI has conducted multiple searches of people tied to the conservative political group Project Veritas, part of a probe into how parts of President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley’s diary were taken and disclosed to the public without her consent in the final days of the 2020 election.

Justice Department agents conducted two searches on Thursday in the New York City area, The New York Times reported, citing two unnamed sources with familiarity in the matter.

In October, Ms Biden reported multiple personal items stolen in a burglary to federal authorities, including the diary, prompting the DOJ to begin an investigation.

A conservative website, separate from Project Veritas, later published dozens of its handwritten pages, claiming it had received the materials from a whistleblower at a media organisation which was refusing to run stories from the diary until after the election.

Project Veritas, a right-wing group known for its use of undercover video recordings against media outlets and progressive groups, maintains it is an investigative media outlet, while a federal judge ruled in October it wasn’t out of line for the subjects of one such sting to call the group a “political spying operation.”

In addition to the searches, the FBI has also reportedly reach out to at least one person who worked for Project Veritas as part of the probe.

The Independent has reached out to the FBI for comment.

Though Project Veritas itself did not publish the diary, the site that did is registered to the same Wyoming address as Richard Seddon, a former British spy who has trained Veritas personnel in the past, according to the Times. Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe was also once president of a company registered at the same address. The searches occurred in lower Manhattan and another in suburban Westchester County, just outside New York City.

Mr O’Keefe released a lengthy video statement on Friday, saying his organisation had been subpoenaed, and that current and former employees had been searched, but denying any wrongdoing. He said they had been approached by tipsters about publishing the journal, but declined to do so because they could’n’t verify if it was real or if the supposed information contained within was true.

“Our legal team previously contacted the Department of Justice and voluntarily conveyed unassailable facts that demonstrate our lack of involvement in criminal activity and/or criminal intent,” he said. “Like any reporters, we regularly deal with the receipt of source information, and take steps to verify its authenticity and newsworthiness.”

Mr O’Keefe alleged his group’s involvement in the search was a mark of political retaliation.

“In what world is the alleged theft of a diary investigated by the president’s FBI and his DOJ. A diary?” he said. “This federal investigation smacks of politics.”

One search reportedly targeted longtime Veritas operative Spencer Meads.

The intrigue surrounding Ashley Biden, Joe Biden’s youngest daughter, is the latest involving members of his family.

Hunter Biden, Ashley’s half brother, was at the centre of Donald Trump’s first impeachment, after the former president threatened to withhold military aid from Ukraine as it pressed the leader of that county to announce an investigation into Hunter’s business dealings.

Late last year, Hunter Biden disclosed federal officials were investigating his taxes.

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