Federal authorities raided the home of James O’Keeffe, founder of the conservative group Project Veritas, on Saturday, according to witnesses and people briefed on the matter, the day after Mr O’Keeffe admitted the group was under investigation. Ministry of Justice. Department in connection with a diary reportedly stolen from Ashley Biden, daughter of President Biden.
The FBI raided Mr. O’Keeffe’s apartment in Mamaroneck, New York, early Saturday morning, after searching the homes of two of Mr. O’Keefe’s accomplices on Thursday as part of an investigation.
An FBI spokesman said Saturday that agents were “carrying out law enforcement” in the building, but would not discuss the investigation.
Mr O’Keeffe did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. But in a video message on Friday, he said his group recently received a subpoena and admitted that Project Veritas had been involved in discussions with sources about the diary last year.
Jimmy Maines, who lives next to Mr. O’Keeffe in a residential complex in Mamaroneck, said a handful of FBI agents arrived early Saturday morning.
“They asked for James,” said Mr. Maine, the entertainment manager. “I thought they were knocking on my door. I opened the door. “
“They told me to close the door and I closed the door,” he added. “This is exactly what happened. It was still dark.
Brent Mikol, a teacher who lives across the hallway from Mr. O’Keeffe, said the agents arrived at about six in the morning. Mr. Mikol said the agents said “something like an FBI warrant.” Open.'”
“I ran to the door, looked out the peephole and clearly saw the FBI raid,” he said. “You’ve seen the jackets. It was literally just out of the movies. “
Mr Maines and Mr Mikol said the FBI agents were in the apartment for several hours.
In his video message on Friday, Mr. O’Keefe detailed how his group handled the diary, stating that he and his colleagues acted as ethical journalists, handed the diary over to law enforcement last year and tried to return it to Ms. Biden.
“It appears that in the Southern District of New York, journalists are currently on the radar for an alleged crime of doing their job lawfully and honestly,” O’Keeffe said in a video message. “Our efforts have been based on responsible, ethical journalism and we have no doubt that Project Veritas has acted as it should at every stage.”
Project Veritas did not publish Ms Biden’s diary, but dozens of handwritten pages of it were posted on the right-wing website last year a week and a half before Election Day, while President Donald J. Trump sought to undermine Mr Biden’s credibility. • The authority of Biden, who portrayed his son Hunter as a participant in corrupt business transactions. The message was largely ignored by other conservative media and mainstream media.
The website says he received a diary from an informant who worked for a media organization that refused to publish an article about it ahead of the election. He claimed to know where the real diary was and that the informant had an audio recording of Ms Biden admitting it was hers.
Ms. Biden, 40, is Mr. Biden’s youngest child. She was low-key and received far less attention than Hunter Biden, her half-brother.
The Trump administration’s Justice Department, then headed by Attorney General William P. Barr, opened an investigation into the matter shortly after a spokesman for the Biden family told federal authorities in October 2020 that several of Ms. Biden’s personal belongings had been stolen in a burglary. , according to two people informed about this.
Mr O’Keefe said in the video that “informants” reached out to Project Veritas in 2020 to alert them of the diary’s existence, stating that they were staying in a room that Ms Biden was recently in. O’Keefe said his group was unable to authenticate the diary and made an “ethical” decision not to publish it.
He said Project Veritas gave the diary to “law enforcement” and tried to return it to the lawyer representing Ms. Biden, who, he said, “refused to confirm its authenticity.” Mr. O’Keeffe portrayed the investigation as politically motivated by asking why the Justice Department, led by Ms. Biden’s father, is handling the case.
In recent weeks, federal investigators have contacted at least one person working at Project Veritas to question the person about the diary, one of the people briefed on the case said.
On Thursday, federal authorities raided the Manhattan residence of Spencer Meads, a longtime Project Veritas employee and confidant of Mr. O’Keeffe, and an apartment in Mamaroneck associated with another O’Keeffe partner.
Project Veritas has long targeted Democratic campaigns in Congress, labor unions, news organizations, and other organizations. The group conducts special operations using hidden cameras and fake documents. At one point, Project Veritas relied on a former British spy named Richard Seddon to help train its operatives, training them in espionage tactics such as using deception to protect information from potential targets.
Flyover Media, the company that owns the website on which the diary pages are published, is registered in the same Sheridan, Wyoming address as Mr. Seddon’s, Branch Six Consulting International. Mr. O’Keeffe, founder of Project Veritas, was once president of a company that was later incorporated at the same address.