“Attorney General Merrick Garland still refuses to retract the memo he sent last month instructing the Department of Justice to scrutinize parents protesting at local school board meetings. Now his department may have committed another civil-liberties abuse with its raid on Project Veritas leader James O’Keefe,” the piece begins.
The editorial board went on to compare the actions of Garland’s FBI to a hypothetical move by the Trump administration to raid a New York Times editor’s home after obtaining the former president’s tax records, noting that nothing that invasive ever occurred under the prior administration.
The investigation, which is also being conducted by the Southern District of New York, surrounds a “stolen” diary belonging to Ashley Biden that went missing just days before the 2020 presidential election.
The “tipsters,” who O’Keefe said were in possession of the diary were apparently negotiating with media outlets to sell Biden’s diary and that ultimately, Project Veritas did not publish the book’s contents because his group was not able to independently verify its authenticity. O’Keefe added the diary was handed over to law enforcement and was never published.
“It’s settled law that it’s not a crime for journalists to publish information that was obtained unlawfully. If it was a crime, most of America’s largest news organizations would be criminal enterprises,” the board wrote.
The Wall Street Journal added that the government also confirmed in correspondence with O’Keefe’s attorney that it “complied with all applicable regulations and policies regarding potential members of the news media.”
The board then asserted that Garland’s guidelines in narrowing the Justice Department’s ability to seize information from reporters, which was published in July, may actually do the opposite.
“Reporters who obtain potentially stolen documents related to a public figure may be subject to the same treatment as Mr. O’Keefe—homes raided and devices seized and searched with no special dispensation for journalistic activity,” the board continued.