In the Washington D.C. suburb of Alexandria, Va., carjackings have made the news lately. Thieves steal cars at Virginia gas stations and race across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge over the Potomac and into Maryland to relative safety.
The Department of Justice doesn’t seem to be doing anything about enforcing the federal laws prohibiting transport of stolen goods across the Virginia-Maryland state line.
If the carjacker was named James O’Keefe of Project Veritas, things would be very different.
The saga of James O’Keefe’s quite possibly completely legal acquisition of Ashley Biden’s diary, and the resulting DOJ secret seizure of his emails from the Microsoft Office 365 cloud, is disgraceful. The lawyers involved should be ashamed, and perhaps even sanctioned by the bars to which they belong. It is an example of a Justice Department even more politicized than it was under Eric Holder, something few thought possible.
It also is a warning about storing documents and communications on someone else’s computer, aka the Cloud.
First, the basic facts. President Biden’s daughter Ashley rented a room in a seedy part of Delray Beach, Fla. When she moved out in the summer of 2020, she left behind bags of her belongings. She ostensibly planned to retrieve them eventually, but never did. A new tenant moved in and found the belongings in her new-rented room.
Among the belongings was Ashley Biden’s diary.
Through twists and turns, all initiated by the new tenant in Ashley Biden’s old room, the diary came to O’Keefe. Project Veritas paid $40,000 for the diary but ultimately decided not to publish it. An employee of Veritas eventually flew from New York to Florida and dropped it off at a police station.
That would have been the end of it, had it been the New York Times or CNN instead of Project Veritas or James O’Keefe.
The reason the diary is in the news still is that Democrats and lawyers at the Justice Department want to disappear O’Keefe.
Why? O’Keefe has done more damage to the left and the Democrat agenda than most all House Republicans combined over the last decade. He has wrecked ACORN, exposed gangsterism in Democrat campaigns and among union activists, and shown media like NPR and CNN to be handmaidens of crazy.
And so, that wasn’t the end of the story of the President’s daughter’s diary, because the person who had it was named James O’Keefe.
We now know that the Department of Justice secretly seized O’Keefe’s emails from the Microsoft Office 365 cloud.
The secret seizure also included emails having nothing to do with Biden’s daughter, and therefore revealed to the government the scores of other investigations Project Veritas is undertaking.
The confiscation included all contact information from O’Keefe’s Microsoft Office 365 cloud account — including most likely this author’s — as well as all of the affected employees. It also included emails and files from the Microsoft Office 365 account predating the saga with the Biden diary.
All in secret.
The purported federal predicate is the interstate transport of stolen goods — Ashley Biden’s diary.
What we have here is the weight of the federal government coming down on a political opponent of the ruling party who touched on a matter of potential family embarrassment for the President.
Had you told an American two decades ago such a thing would be possible, they would have scoffed.
Related: Can the FBI Be Salvaged?
Indeed, I was a Justice Department lawyer, and at least in my section, there was a concerted effort to avoid any appearance of abuse of power. I once needed to obtain something from a very, very large American newspaper, and the hoops I had to jump through to even suggest compelling evidence were astonishing. They were designed to avoid any perception that the Department was abusing press freedom or intimidating political opponents of the party in power.
Things sure have changed at the Southern District of New York. There, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Sobelman, Mitzi Steiner, and Jacqueline Kelly have fought to keep the seizure of O’Keefe’s papers secret, even after the investigation was publicly revealed in November 2021. Kelly’s LinkedIn page says she heads the criminal civil rights unit at the Southern District of New York. Kelly clerked for an Obama-appointed federal judge and went to Columbia law school and Cornell. Of course she did.
One basis in law to keep secret a seizure of documents on the Microsoft 365 cloud is that it would reveal the existence of an investigation. When FBI agents battered down the front door of O’Keefe’s home in November 2021, the investigation was no longer secret. Yet these three DOJ lawyers failed to inform a federal judge in multiple subsequent pleadings that the federal government had secretly seized O’Keefe’s emails.
Meanwhile, the left has formed a whole new group to agitate for the disbarment of republican lawyers who represented President Trump.
Perhaps a group should be formed to seek the disbarment of Justice Department lawyers who engage in abuse of power, misconduct, and misrepresentations to courts. After all, there is no shortage of worthy lawyers inside DOJ to target for discipline.
Consider Karla Dobinski, formerly of the Civil Rights Division. As I wrote almost a decade ago:
Now we learn that that an attorney in the infamous and lawless Civil Rights Division was engaging in clandestine blogging at a major newspaper in order to help convict New Orleans police officers in a matter to which she was assigned. Enter Karla Dobinski, DOJ Civil Rights Division lawyer by day and secret blogger by night. Dobinski was posting in the comments at newspaper sites and anonymously polluting the atmosphere about cases against New Orleans police officers on which she was working.
Joseph Stalin was very protective of his daughter Svetlana. When the teen fell in love in 1943 with Aleksei Kapler, a Jewish filmmaker, Stalin unleashed the powers of the Soviet state to fix things. Kapler was sentenced to exile to a coal mining town north of the Arctic Circle. Eventually he ended up in the Gulag.
It’s a shame that in 2022, America is at a point where it appears lawyers at the Department of Justice are abusing power and playing games in court pleadings to crush the foe of another angry father. Magistrate Judge Sarah Cave should put an end to the DOJ abuse. She should give the DOJ Office of Professional Misconduct time to ask these three lawyers why they didn’t disclose the existence of the secret seizure of Microsoft Office 365 cloud documents to the court.
Judge Cave might place a call to Judge Kurt Englehardt on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to see how it’s done.