President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice secretly spied on Project Veritas by circumventing certain legal processes to gain covert access to the emails and sources of at least eight journalists without their knowledge.
Project Veritas obtained several legal documents from Microsoft Corporation detailing how the DOJ covertly used “secret warrants, orders, and a subpoena” approved by six magistrates in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) to surveil the journalists without proper oversight from the “Special Master” designated to protect the organization’s rights.
Over the course of 16 months, Project Veritas said the DOJ and Assistant United States Attorney Robert B. Sobelman justified giving the SDNY “unchecked” and “unfettered” access to the emails and contacts of Founder and CEO James O’Keefe and seven other staff members because the federal government claimed, without providing evidence, that “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 organization believes this “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.”
The orders, warrants, and subpoenas commissioned by Biden’s DOJ each maintained non-disclosure orders that kept Project Veritas and other judges from knowing that Microsoft had handed over more than a year’s worth of emails to the government for scrutiny. These non-disclosure orders were scheduled to expire in January of 2022, but the SDNY sidestepped previous rulings designed to protect the organization from unjustified overreach and renewed the orders.
Microsoft reportedly took issue with these renewals and demanded that the SDNY change course.
“Microsoft pointed out that the DOJ’s investigation was already public and no proof that Project Veritas would destroy evidence had been offered by the SDNY. As a result of Microsoft’s briefing, the SDNY relented and permitted Microsoft to disclose the surveillance, which Microsoft did within hours,” Project Veritas reported.
U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres previously ruled that Project Veritas was entitled to “journalistic privileges” and appointed Special Master Judge Barbara Jones to enforce those privileges by gatekeeping the DOJ’s investigation into the organization. Project Veritas alleges that the DOJ kept its email spying campaign a secret from both Torres and Jones to avoid asking for approval so it could secretly gather information about the organization and its staff’s communications.
Further, the DOJ reportedly went behind Torres’s back to a magistrate judge to get an extension on two sealed non-disclosure orders to hide the fact that the federal government already had secret and unhindered access to the journalists’ correspondence.
Project Veritas assessed that as a result, the SDNY possesses “nearly 150K documents they should not have” as well as “over one thousand contacts from journalists that they also failed to disclose to Judge Torres or to the Special Master.”
The organization filed a motion this week demanding that a court force SDNY to halt its digital reconnaissance.
“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,” Paul Calli, an attorney for the organization, noted in the motion. “…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.”