FBI agents recently raided the home of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and others connected to the organization, seizing their phones and other items in search of a supposedly stolen diary belonging to President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley.
A federal judge this week, however, ordered the Justice Department to halt all efforts to extract and review the contents of O’Keefe’s phone until it is determined whether a “special master” will be appointed to oversee the government’s actions.
Court issues ruling in O’Keefe’s favor
According to Breitbart, the ruling is clearly a win for O’Keefe, though it might have come too late to do him much good. After all, the FBI had access to his phone for several days and could have theoretically already accessed any information contained therein.
Harmeet Dhillon, one of his attorneys, nevertheless celebrated the news by sharing a copy of the judge’s order along with his remarks in a tweet.
“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,” Dhillon wrote. “Counsel for Project Veritas asked the court to do this yesterday!”
U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres ordered that the government had until Friday to “confirm via email” that it had ceased the extraction and review of information on O’Keefe’s phone.
She also set dates later this month for the government and petitioners to file briefs in response to the motion.
“The DOJ has specific regulations about this”
Dhillon shared a statement with Fox News expressing relief over the “temporary victory” but noting that “Project Veritas has a long way to go to hold the DOJ and FBI accountable for their actions.”
The attorney later appeared on the network for an interview with host Tucker Carlson to explain why she had to get a court order to stop the FBI from extracting and reviewing materials in which it likely had no interest.
“The DOJ has specific regulations about this,” Dhillon said. “There’s also a federal statute called the Privacy Protection Act that protects journalists and their information from exactly this type of thuggish behavior that the DOJ has done in this case. And they have blown federal law, they have blown the Constitution, they have blown due process and civil rights, and now they’re so easily communicating in some level for sure with The New York Times.”
She appeared to be referencing reports that the Times received a tip about the raids and provided coverage within hours of them taking place. More recently, the publication of attorney-client information about O’Keefe was potentially linked to his seized phone.
O’Keefe himself weighed in during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Hannity, arguing: “In what world is the alleged theft of a diary investigated by the president’s FBI and his Department of Justice? A diary?”