Federal authorities raided the home of James O’Keefe, the founder of conservative group Project Veritas, on Saturday, according to witnesses and people briefed on the matter, a day after Mr. O’Keefe admitted the group was making the call. subject to judicial investigation. Department in connection with a newspaper allegedly stolen from Ashley Biden, President Biden’s daughter.
The FBI carried out a court-ordered search of Mr. O’Keefe’s apartment in Mamaroneck, NY early Saturday morning after searching the homes of two of Mr. O’Keefe’s associates on Thursday as part of the investigation.
An FBI spokesperson said on Saturday that agents had “carried out law enforcement activities” in the building, but would not discuss the investigation.
Mr. O’Keefe did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. But in a video statement on Friday, he said his group had recently received a grand jury subpoena and acknowledged that Project Veritas was involved in discussions with sources last year about the newspaper.
Jimmy Maynes, who lives next to Mr. O’Keefe at an apartment complex in Mamaroneck, said a handful of FBI agents arrived early Saturday morning.
“They asked for James,” said Mr. Mayne, an entertainment director. “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 Mickol, a teacher who lives across from Mr O’Keefe, said it was around 6 a.m. when officers arrived. Mr. Mickol said officers said ‘something like’ FBI warrant ‘. Open up.’ “
“I ran to the door and looked through the peephole and clearly saw an FBI raid,” he said. “You saw the jackets. Literally, it was just out of a movie.
Mr. Maynes and Mr. Mickol said FBI agents remained in the apartment for several hours.
In his video statement on Friday, Mr O’Keefe at length defended his group’s management of the newspaper, saying he and his colleagues acted as ethical journalists, turned the newspaper over to law enforcement authorities last year and had sought to return it to Ms. Biden’s attorney.
“It appears the Southern District of New York now has reporters on the radar for the crime supposed to be doing their job legally and honestly,” Mr. O’Keefe said in the video statement. “Our efforts were the responsibility of responsible and ethical journalism and we have no doubt that Project Veritas did the right thing every step of the way.”
Project Veritas did not publish Ms Biden’s diary, but dozens of handwritten pages of it were posted on a right-wing website last year a week and a half before Election Day, at a time when President Donald J. Trump sought to undermine Mr. Biden’s credibility by portraying his son Hunter as engaging in corrupt business transactions. The post was largely ignored by other conservative and mainstream media.
The website said it obtained the diary of a whistleblower who worked for a media organization who refused to publish an article about it before the election. He claimed to know where the actual diary was and that the whistleblower had an audio recording of Ms Biden admitting it was his.
Ms Biden, 40, is Mr Biden’s youngest child. She kept a low profile and garnered 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 case shortly after a representative for the Biden family reported to federal authorities in October 2020 that several of Ms Biden’s personal items were stolen in a burglary, according to two people briefed on the matter.
Mr O’Keefe said in the video that “informants” contacted Project Veritas in 2020 to alert them to the newspaper’s existence, saying they stayed in a room Ms Biden had recently visited. But Mr O’Keefe said his group could not authenticate the newspaper and made the “ethical” decision not to publish it.
He said Project Veritas turned the newspaper over to “law enforcement” and attempted to return it to a lawyer representing Ms Biden, who he said “refused to authenticate” it. Mr O’Keefe described the investigation as politically motivated, questioning why the Justice Department of Ms Biden’s father was pursuing the case.
In recent weeks, federal investigators have contacted at least one person who worked for Project Veritas to question him about the newspaper, one of those briefed on the case said.
On Thursday, federal authorities raided the Manhattan residence of Spencer Meads, a longtime Project Veritas agent and Mr. O’Keefe’s confidant, and an apartment in Mamaroneck linked to another O’Keefe associate.
Project Veritas has a habit of targeting Congressional Democratic campaigns, labor groups, the news media and others. The group carries out undercover operations using hidden cameras and false identities. At one point, Project Veritas relied on a former British spy named Richard Seddon to help train its agents, teaching them spy tactics such as using deception to gain information from potential targets.
Flyover Media, the company that owns the website which published the newspaper pages, is registered at the same address in Sheridan, Wyo., As Mr. Seddon’s company, Branch Six Consulting International. Mr. O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, was once the president of a company which later registered at the same address.