Judge refuses to unseal files on raid on Project Veritas founder
The Journalists’ Committee for Press Freedom formally asked the court to unseal the search warrant documents, including the request that federal prosecutors and the FBI made when they requested permission to search. However, trial judge Sarah Cave ruled on Tuesday that the files should remain under seal for now.
Cave cited Ashley Biden’s privacy interests as one of the factors justifying the secrecy of court records.
âThe Court is mindful that the government is investigating potential criminal activity related to the transmission of personal information about a private citizen, who happens to be the daughter of President Biden,â Cave wrote. “Given the details of Ms. Biden’s personal information included in the documents,” the privacy interests of innocent third parties “- including the victim of the alleged criminal activity – are a significant compensating factor against the granting of public access. “
Cave also concluded that the disclosure of the documents at this point could impact the privacy interests of others and harm the ongoing investigation by revealing details of what the government has discovered so far. .
Counsel for the Committee of Journalists, Katie Townsend, said Tuesday the group is still considering whether to take further action on the matter.
In the 19-page decision, the examining magistrate referred to O’Keefe as one of the “subjects” of the investigation. Federal prosecutors use the term to describe a person whose activities are actively investigated by the investigation but who is not currently considered likely to be charged.
If Cave intended to use the term in that sense, it would raise further questions about the raid on O’Keefe’s home, as prosecutors are generally not permitted to use search or seizure warrants to obtain unpublished media material on crimes allegedly committed by others.
O’Keefe’s attorney said the Conservative provocateur bought the “rights” to the newspaper from two people who claimed to have obtained it legally. O’Keefe said those who handed over the diary found it abandoned in a room where Ashley Biden had stayed.
O’Keefe said his group never published anything from the newspaper because he couldn’t confirm it was genuine. He then tried to hand it over to an attorney for Biden’s daughter, but after that person didn’t accept it, the diary was turned over to law enforcement in Florida.
O’Keefe asked the court to appoint a special master to oversee the searches for his phones, but federal prosecutors opposed the request.
Manhattan District Court judge Analisa Torres is still considering implementing such a measure, but has asked prosecutors and the FBI to suspend their examination of the devices while she considers the matter.
Disclosure: Gerstein is a member of the steering committee of the Journalists’ Committee for Freedom of the Press.