A federal judge Thursday ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to stop the extraction of data from Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe’s smartphone, pending a court hearing on the appointment of a “special master” to oversee the extraction.
O’Keefe’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, tweeted the court’s decision, saying it was what O’Keefe’s legal team had sought:
BREAKING! The federal court has just ordered the DOJ to STOP extracting data from our client, journalist James O’Keefe’s phone, and ordered a hearing. Counsel for Project Veritas asked the court to do this yesterday! pic.twitter.com/nBrmf4myuj
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) November 11, 2021
The DOJ has O’Keefe’s phone and other data following an FBI raid earlier this month of O’Keefe’s New York home, ostensibly looking for information related to the alleged theft of a diary belonging to Ashley Biden, President Joe Biden’s daughter.
O’Keefe said at the time that Project Veritas was provided with the diary by another source, but decided not to use any of the information contained therein, and contacted law enforcement. It is unclear why the FBI conducted the raid, and critics have pointed out that the government’s actions could also be an attempt to suppress an opposition-minded journalist.
A “special master” would be a court-appointed official who would review the data on O’Keefe’s phone to ensure that none of it involves privileged material that generally cannot be used by the government, such as communications from O’Keefe to his attorneys.
A similar “special master” was appointed to review materials seized from Michael Cohen, a former lawyer to President Donald Trump, when his home and office were raided in 2018 by the FBI partly at the direction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The “special master” would not necessarily stop the DOJ from using information on O’Keefe’s phone, but limit its access.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.