(Video: Fox News)
A federal judge has stepped in and ordered the Justice Department to stop extracting data from the phones of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe following the pre-dawn FBI raid on his home over the weekend.
The raid on O’Keefe’s apartment came after the homes of two reporters associated with his company were also raided earlier that week in connection to an investigation into the missing diary belonging to President Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden. Two iPhones belonging to O’Keefe were seized on Saturday.
On Thursday, District Court Judge Analisa Torres from the Southern District of New York granted a request from O’Keefe’s legal team for an independent “special master” to be appointed to oversee the review of his devices, giving the DOJ until Friday to confirm that they have paused their review of the devices, Fox News reported.
“We are gratified that the Department of Justice has been ordered to stop extracting and reviewing confidential and privileged information obtained in their raids of our reporters, including legal, donor, and confidential source communications,” O’Keefe’s attorney Harmeet Dhillon told Fox News. “The First Amendment won a temporary victory today, but Project Veritas has a long way to go to hold the DOJ and FBI accountable for their actions.”
BREAKING! The federal court has just ordered the DOJ to STOP extracting data from our client, journalist James O’Keefe’s phone, and ordered a hearing. Counsel for Project Veritas asked the court to do this yesterday! pic.twitter.com/nBrmf4myuj
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) November 11, 2021
In denouncing the raids on the homes of the reporters, O’Keefe noted that The New York Times appeared to have been tipped off on the action and, as Fox News host Tucker Carlson reported on Thursday night, the Times ran an article earlier in the day that contained “a bunch of secret, private legal documents from Project Veritas.”
Dhillon appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to say there are “multiple First Amendment issues” with the FBI seizing Project Veritas’ donor information, communications with its lawyers, and sources from within the Biden administration — this being part of the information on the iPhones.
“Our client James O’Keefe’s home was raided on Saturday morning by the FBI. They had a battering ram and they threw him out in the hallway in handcuffs and took his phone,” Dhillon explained. “A lot of privileged information was on his phones, including communications with, by my count, four dozen different lawyers over the years. And, coincidentally, this publication came out this afternoon from the New York Times. Now, I can’t say with a certainty how the New York Times got this information but I can say they got it in a way that is illegal and unethical.”
“What we have right now is a very 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 last week,” she told Carlson. “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.”
The Times published legal advice that attorney Benjamin Barr gave Project Veritas about the legality surrounding covert recordings and false identities in various situations and jurisdictions, though it’s not clear how the newspaper got the information.
Carlson interjected to say, “We know the Biden administration leaks confidential information about its critics to news outlets. They did it to me personally, so I know for a fact that they do it.”
His remark being a reference to the National Security Agency allegedly leaking some of his private emails to journalists over the summer. Carlson then suggested that the DOJ leaking to sources may actually be a crime.
This is when Dhillon mentioned the “multiple First Amendment issues,” adding: “We went to the court and asked the court to order a special master to review this information and not let the Southern District of New York prosecutors and the FBI look at it without somebody separating out this information. The government would not agree to do that voluntarily but we went to court and today a federal judge did order the government to stop looking at these phones. So ultimately, we’re going to get some answers as to what was reviewed and what they did with it.”
She said they may never find out entirely what the government has done here. Insisting that “there’s a lot of this going on” and characterizing it as “thuggish behavior” from federal authorities, Dhillon was adamant that the Biden DOJ is “sleazily communicating, at some level, with The New York Times.”
“This is a scandal of epic proportions. Every journalist who is not worried about this should hang up their journalism card, ditto all First Amendment lawyers as well,” she concluded.
Talking on Twitter, Dhillon expressed concern about the DOJ ignoring federal law “in seizing phones and doing God-knows-what with contents!!”
Project Veritas has a LOT of lawyers. That’s because they take their calling–publishing truth– very seriously and they get legal advice at every turn. That’s why it’s so disturbing that the Feds would ignore federal law in seizing phones and doing God-knows-what with contents!!
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) November 12, 2021
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