A constitutional expert is openly wondering when the FBI will “raid the home of New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger,” after that federal agency conducted a smash and grab operation at the home of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe.
“Both publications were given stolen or abandoned confidential material,” explained Jonathan Turley, a prominent commentator on legal issues.
“The difference in response appears based on source of the material and the political orientation of the publication. Ashley Biden’s diary was deemed a federal issue of such importance that the administration conducted highly intrusive searches and seizures targeting a publisher. Conversely, the New York Times obtained core attorney-client material that was unlawfully taken from Project Veritas.”
The controversy has been developing for months. Ashley Biden, Joe Biden’s daughter, apparently left behind a diary when she moved out of a friend’s home. A subsequent roommate reportedly found it, and it ended up in the hands of Project Veritas, known for its undercover reporting on leftist scandals. That group didn’t use it, but turned it over to police.
Reports have suggested that she referred to “inappropriate” showers with her father, and she also allegedly asked herself, “Have I been abused?” and answered “I think so.”
One result is that the FBI raided the home of O’Keefe and several others associated with Project Veritas.
The move was criticized even by the American Civil Liberties Union, which typically is on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Project Veritas.
The FBI’s actions were described by the organization as a threat to all journalists.
“The precedent set in this case could have serious consequences for press freedom,” warned Brian Hauss, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.
So Turley raised the question, since O’Keefe was raided for his involvement in the diary episode, should not Sulzberger be raided for his organization’s receipt of confidential legal material that belonged to Project Veritas in the case?
A judge ruled just days ago that the Times had to return Project Veritas’ property, and an appeals court has halted that decision temporarily.
Turley explained he has concerns about such “prior restraint.”
“That issue will be now be addressed in the courts. One question, however, remains: when will the FBI raid the home of New York Times publisher, A.G. Sulzberger?” he wondered.
“That is what the Justice Department did when Project Veritas was given the diary of President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley – the subject of the New York Times story. They raided the home and seized the confidential communications of the founder of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe, as well as others associated with this publication.”
Turley said the material obtained by the Times appears to be a discussion of what is allowed under the law.
“So the New York Times wants to publish the legal advice given to another publication on how to stay ‘on the right side’ of federal laws. There is no concern how such reporting undermines the ability of reporters and lawyers to work in this field. In decades as a legal commentator, law professor, and lawyer in this area, I have never seen such an intrusion into this area of confidential communications of a news organization by another news organization,” he wrote.
“Putting aside the horrendous judgment of the New York Times, the story returns us to the glaring contradiction with the Ashley Biden story. While one could debate the news value of the legal memos, the contents of the diary would be considered newsworthy under current torts standards governing civil liability. Like her brother Hunter, Ashley has struggled with addiction and the diary recounts that struggle of someone who would constitute a ‘public figure’ under defamation law,” he noted.
He noted the difference in the materials, too. The diary was abandoned, while the legal memos the Times obtained were marked confidential.
“If opposing counsel were ever given such material in litigation, a court would order the return of the material,” he said.
“The many questions in these cases should be answered by both the Justice Department and the media. For the FBI, the concern is whether it is now acting like a type of Praetorian Guard for the First Family. For the media, the concern is that some outlets are now acting like a type of state media for the Biden administration,” he said.
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