California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office has refiled charges against the video journalists who exposed alleged profiteering from the sale of body parts of aborted babies within Planned Parenthood and its partners in the biomedical procurement industry.
In June Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite dismissed 14 of 15 felony charges lodged against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of Center for Medical Progress (CMP). He did not dismiss the charge, however, that the two conspired to violate privacy rights.
In refiling the charges against the journalists, Becerra’s office provided numerical identifications for each video, and gave the names of individuals recorded in the videos to defense attorneys with court orders not to release their identities, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Daleiden and Merritt are due to be arraigned on the refiled charges July 17.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge William Orrick of San Francisco has scheduled a hearing July 11 to determine if Daleiden and his defense lawyers will be held in contempt for publishing the links to many of the journalist’s recordings in May.
Orrick issued an injunction last year that barred the public release of the recordings based on his claim the recordings might incite threats against abortion workers.
However, in June, Daleiden’s attorneys filed a motion requesting Orrick’s disqualification from his case “on the grounds that there is evidence of bias in favor of the plaintiff and prejudice against the defendants.”
The plaintiff in the case is the National Abortion Federation (NAF), which claims the videos would endanger the lives of their abortionists.
In the latest CMP video, which is a compilation of excerpts from video filmed at NAF trade shows, abortionists are heard discussing, amid laughter, the difficulties they face in their jobs, such as “the head that gets stuck that we can’t get out,” and “an eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross!”
At the end of May, Orrick censored any video links and references to the identities of NAF members. Following Orrick’s order, YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, LiveLeak, and other sites deleted the video.
In an interview with Breitbart News, Peter Breen, special counsel with the Thomas More Society – which represents Daleiden – said the motion is extremely significant. He explained:
Bringing a motion to disqualify a federal judge is a very serious matter. It’s not something that you do lightly, but in view of the evidence that has now come to light, we, as attorneys are duty bound, at this point, to bring the motion to disqualify. In fact, it would be malpractice for us not to. We believe the law requires disqualification.
Some of the evidence we’ve brought forward is that as recently as September of 2015 – several weeks after entering the temporary restraining order in the NAF case – we’ve learned that the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, which is interlinked with a Planned Parenthood affiliate that is a member of the National Abortion Federation – that they are holding out Judge Orrick as an emeritus member of their board.
The National Abortion Federation – their allegations were there would be harm to their members – and, so, you’ve got an entity that is in partnership with a member that actually hosts one of the NAF members. Now you’ve got the judge being held out by that entity as part of the organization, as connected to it.
An affidavit by Daleiden also observes that Judge Orrick’s wife has posted photos of herself with her husband alongside public comments that are supportive of Planned Parenthood and critical of the defendants.
According to Daleiden’s statement in the affidavit:
I learned that, no later than the fall of 2015 Mrs. Orrick, “pinkified” her Facebook page and added the “I stand with Planned Parenthood” overlay across her profile picture. Planned Parenthood urged its supporters to add these elements to their Facebook pages as part of a social media campaign orchestrated specifically in response to the release of videos by myself and CMP. “Pinkifying” showed one’s support for Planned Parenthood and one’s belief that the videos were fraudulent.
Just days ago, I further discovered that Mrs. Orrick “liked” a Facebook post by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) that described my and CMP’s work as “heavily edited videos by a sham organization run by extremists who will stop at nothing to deny women legal abortion services.” The Facebook post also appeared to describe our videos as “domestic terrorism” against abortion providers.
Mrs. Orrick also liked a Facebook Post by “Keep America Pro-Choice” that applauded my indictment in Harris County, Texas, which was ultimately dismissed as invalid by two different judges. Both “likes” were accompanied by a profile picture featuring Judge and Mrs. Orrick.
According to the document containing Orrick’s responses to the Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees, in June of 2009, Orrick introduced now-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at a fundraiser for her campaign at the time of her bid for the post of California’s attorney general [p. 23]. In addition, he states, “I raised money and sponsored an event for the campaign of Kamala Harris for Attorney General in 2009, before I joined the Department of Justice.” (p. 31).
Democrat Harris was elected California attorney general in 2010, barely defeating then-Los Angeles district attorney Steven Cooley, a Republican, whose firm, Steven Cooley & Associates (SCA), now defends Daleiden and Merritt.
The explosive videos of the Planned Parenthood officials, allegedly discussing how they obtain the highest quality fetal body parts during abortions in order to maximize sales to biotech companies, rocked the nation and set off multiple congressional investigations into the abortion and fetal tissue procurement industries.
Becerra, a former Democratic congressman who became attorney general after Harris, his predecessor, was sworn in as a U.S. senator, said his office “will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations,” reported the Los Angeles Times in March.
“The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” Becerra added.
The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board, however, took issue with Becerra’s actions:
It’s disturbingly aggressive for Becerra to apply this criminal statute to people who were trying to influence a contested issue of public policy, regardless of how sound or popular that policy may be. Planned Parenthood and biomedical company StemExpress, which was also featured in the videos, have another remedy for the harm that was done to them: They can sue Daleiden and Merritt for damages. The state doesn’t need to threaten the pair with prison time.
Both Becerra and Harris have been the recipients of campaign funds from Planned Parenthood.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Becerra received a total of $5,535 from Planned Parenthood during his congressional election bids between 1998 and 2014.
Harris is on record as having received $2,600 in 2016 from Planned Parenthood for her Senate race campaign. Additionally, the current U.S. senator was the recipient of $39,855 from the Abortion Policy/Pro-Abortion Rights lobby group, according to OpenSecrets.org.
ElectionTrack.com also reported Harris received $15,000 from Planned Parenthood for her attorney general campaign bids.
As Breitbart News reported, emails obtained by the Washington Times in September of 2016 showed that Harris’s office collaborated with Planned Parenthood to produce the California legislation criminalizing undercover journalists for publishing and distributing recordings of private communications with abortion providers.
According to the Times:
The documents are another indication of Ms. Harris‘ close relationship with Planned Parenthood and call into question the impartiality of her ongoing investigation of Mr. Daleiden, legal experts said.
The emails show Beth Parker, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, sending multiple drafts of AB 1671 to Jill Habig, who was at the time special counsel to the attorney general.
“Attached is the language for AB 1671, proposed amendments to Penal Code section 632,” Ms. Parker wrote in an email marked March 8. “I look forward to your thoughts about this.”
Ms. Parker sent a revised draft of the legislation to Ms. Habig on March 16. “Here’s the rewrite of the video tape bill,” she wrote. “Let me know what you think.”
The Washington Examiner reported the mainstream media has been “silent” on the Planned Parenthood contributions to the campaigns of Becerra and Harris, and observed as well that Lia Parada, a former aide to Becerra, is currently working as a Planned Parenthood lobbyist.
Charges brought against Daleiden and Merritt in Harris County, Texas – under suspicion of bias – were ultimately dropped. One of Planned Parenthood’s biotech partners – StemExpress – also backed off a lawsuit against the video makers.
Though Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing in its alleged sale of body parts, it also announced in October 2015 that it would no longer accept payments for aborted fetal tissue.
The organization and its media and political allies continue to insist the CMP videos were “deceptively edited.” However, a Democrat opposition research firm named Fusion GPS – hired by Planned Parenthood itself to review the videos – said while their analysts observed the videos had been edited, “the analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.”
Additionally, Fusion noted, “[A]nalysts found no evidence that CMP inserted dialogue not spoken by Planned Parenthood staff.”
An analysis by Coalfire, a third-party forensics company hired by Alliance Defending Freedom, found that the videos were “not manipulated” and that they are “authentic.”
Fusion GPS was found in June to be the same sketchy “research” firm that commissioned a dossier on President Donald Trump to present as alleged evidence of his wrongdoing in the “Russiagate” conspiracy.
The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Select Investigative Panel have referred Planned Parenthood Federation of America, several of the largest Planned Parenthood affiliates in the country, and three of their business associates in the fetal tissue procurement industry to the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.