A new investigation is shedding light on how a right-wing group, known for its deceptive tactics and accusations of using doctored videos, got hold of a diary written by Ashley Biden, the president’s daughter.
A new investigation, published on Sunday by The New York Times, revealed that the diary passed through the hands of a Florida-area ally of Donald Trump whose daughter then alerted the right-wing Project Veritas about its existence through a tip line.
Ms Biden’s writings in the diary are from when she was recovering from addiction and were eventually published by a fringe right-wing blog unrelated to Project Veritas.
A representative for Ms Biden declined to comment to the Times, and could not immediately be reached on Sunday by The Independent following the story’s publication.
The Independent has reached out to Project Veritas for comment. The group slammed the Times’s story as out of sync with reality.
It was previously reported that Project Veritas tried to leverage potential publication of the diary in discussions with Mr Biden’s team, in the hopes of securing an interview with the now-president, in a letter sent to his campaign less than a month before the election.
According to theTimes, before reaching Project Veritas, the diary was passed around at a Trump campaign fundraiser hosted at the home of Elizabeth Fago. A Palm Beach socialite, Ms Fago was appointed by the White House in the waning days of the Trump administration to a largely ceremonial spot on the National Cancer Advisory Board.
Donald Trump Jr attended the event, but according to the Times, it’s unclear whether he knew the diary was being passed around or personally viewed its contents.
Project Veritas remains under federal investigation over the diary’s theft. The writings were apparently stolen from belongings that Ms Biden had left behind at a residence where she had stayed as a guest.
A woman who would later move into the residence found it among Ms Biden’s belongings and facilitated its sale.
Representatives for Project Veritas have argued that they had no knowledge the diary was stolen, though it’s unclear in what other manner a diary of deeply-personal writings would be obtained.
Project Veritas has admitted in court filings, according to the Times, of sending an operative to obtain more personal items belonging to Ms Biden, that the operative’s “sources” claimed were left behind. The tactic, that is ethically questionable to say the least, raises the possibility that the Project Veritas operative could have deduced the items were in fact stolen.
“The sources arranged to meet the Project Veritas journalist in Florida soon thereafter to give the journalist additional abandoned items,” wrote attorneys for Project Veritas in one filing.
In Florida, anyone who traffics in property they know to be stolen can face a felony charge punishable by a $10,000 fine or jail time.
Perhaps most damaging for the organisation is an admission from an attorney, who turned the diary and other personal items of Ms Biden over to police after Project Veritas declined to publish.
The Florida attorney told police that his client believed the items to be “possibly stolen”. He did not name his client in the police report filed on the day he returned the items, but Project Veritas has confirmed that it was responsible for the items being handed over.
“Project Veritas gave the diary to law enforcement to ensure it could be returned to its rightful owner,” the organisation said in a previous statement.
The Times also reported that Project Veritas operatives engaged in deception and lies to verify the diary’s authenticity.
One operative would later phone Ms Biden directly and claim to be doing a good deed and trying to return the stolen property to her in what the Times reports was another effort by the group to prove that the diary was in fact Ms Biden’s.
Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe and at least two of his employees have faced FBI raids at their residences as the investigation into the stolen diary continues.