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Tag: project veritas

Bombshell Report Uncovers Right-Wing 'Sting' Plot Against McMaster, FBI

Undercover operatives from the right-wing Project Veritas worked with a former British spy and Betsy DeVos' brother Erik Prince to wage a smear and sting operation to discredit "deep state" federal government officials on President Donald Trump's enemies list while he was in office, including the White House National Security Adviser and unnamed FBI agents.

The New York Times broke the bombshell story, reporting that the "campaign included a planned sting operation against Mr. Trump's national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against F.B.I. employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau's ranks.

""The campaign," the Times reports, "shows the obsession that some of Mr. Trump's allies had about a shadowy 'deep state' trying to blunt his agenda — and the lengths that some were willing to go to try to purge the government of those believed to be disloyal to the president."

"Central to the effort, according to interviews, was Richard Seddon, a former undercover British spy who was recruited in 2016 by the security contractor Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives to infiltrate trade unions, Democratic congressional campaigns and other targets. He ran field operations for Project Veritas until mid-2018."

Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Seddon ran an expansive effort to gain access to the unions and campaigns and led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the number of the group's operatives, according to interviews and deposition testimony. He trained operatives at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming.

The Times' extensive reporting, which runs about 2700 words, does not reveal who initiated or who bankrolled the campaign.

The Times reports the operation was run out of a Washington, D.C, townhouse that rented for $10,000 a month, and that it is not known if President Trump or his closest advisors, including family members, were aware of the operation or had anything to do with it.

"The operation against Mr. McMaster was hatched not long after an article appeared in BuzzFeed News about a private dinner in 2017. Exactly what happened during the dinner is in dispute, but the article said that Mr. McMaster had disparaged Mr. Trump by calling him an 'idiot' with the intelligence of a 'kindergartner.'"

Those allegations were never proven, although they echo what some others inside the administration, like first Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had allegedly stated.

In the end, McMaster resigned amid far right-wing attacks, but no recordings emerged of him calling Trump an "idiot."

Read the entire New York Times investigation here.




The Times' extensive reporting, which runs about 2700 words, does not reveal who initiated or who bankrolled the campaign.The Times reports the operation was run out of a Washington, D.C, townhouse that rented for $10,000 a month, and that it is not known if President Trump or his closest advisors, including family members, were aware of the operation or had anything to do with it.Last year, The New York Times reported that Mr. Seddon ran an expansive effort to gain access to the unions and campaigns and led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the number of the group's operatives, according to interviews and deposition testimony. He trained operatives at the Prince family ranch in Wyoming.

The Times' extensive reporting, which runs about 2700 words, does not reveal who initiated or who bankrolled the campaign.The Times reports the operation was run out of a Washington, D.C, townhouse that rented for $10,000 a month, and that it is not known if President Trump or his closest advisors, including family members, were aware of the operation or had anything to do with it.


Erik Prince Recruited Ex-Spies To Infiltrate Liberal Groups

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

An explosive New York Times report revealed Saturday that notorious war profiteer Erik Prince recruited former American and British spies to work with the right-wing group Project Veritas to infiltrate at least one Democratic congressional campaign and organizations "considered hostile" to President Donald Trump's agenda.

"Secretary DeVos' brother was directly involved in a spying scheme in her home state against a teachers' union she's been hostile with for years. If this doesn't clear the bar for an immediate Congressional investigation, nothing does."
—Derek Martin, Allied Progress

Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. Through a spokesperson, he declined the Times' request for comment on the piece, which is based on interviews and documents obtained by the newspaper, including internal Project Veritas emails.

"Both Project Veritas and Mr. Prince have ties to President Trump's aides and family," the Times noted. "Whether any Trump administration officials or advisers to the president were involved in the operations, even tacitly, is unclear. But the effort is a glimpse of a vigorous private campaign to try to undermine political groups or individuals perceived to be in opposition to Mr. Trump's agenda."

The results of the Times' investigation were described by readers on social media as "chilling," "stunning," and "insane." Jacobin magazine assistant editor Alex Press declared, "My paranoid fantasies are all true!" In response to a tweet about the reporting, author and activist Naomi Klein simply wrote, "Read."

The consumer watchdog group Allied Progress responded with a statement Saturday night, calling on the House Oversight Committee to conduct an immediate investigation into what DeVos knew about Prince's activities.

"There's not a lot of dots to connect here," said Allied Progress director Derek Martin. "Secretary DeVos' brother was directly involved in a spying scheme in her home state against a teachers' union she's been hostile with for years. If this doesn't clear the bar for an immediate Congressional investigation, nothing does."

"We already know Secretary DeVos is no friend of public education, but if she gave the go-ahead to enlist former intelligence officers to steal documents from public education advocates that she disagrees with, it steps well beyond policy disagreement and into criminal territory," Martin added. "If Secretary DeVos was in any way involved, it will confirm that she stops at nothing to undermine public schools."

According to the Times:

One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers' unions in the nation. Mr. Seddon directed an undercover operative to secretly tape the union's local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization, documents show.
Using a different alias the next year, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former CIA officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign discovered the operative and fired her.
Both operations were run by Project Veritas, a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians, and liberal advocacy groups. Mr. Seddon's role in the teachers' union operation—detailed in internal Project Veritas emails that have emerged from the discovery process of a court battle between the group and the union—has not previously been reported, nor has Mr. Prince's role in recruiting Mr. Seddon for the group's activities.

The Times reported that it is unclear whether Seddon was involved in the Spanberger operation and the former British intelligence officer—who is married to American diplomat Alice Seddon—did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment.

James O'Keefe of Project Veritas told the Times that his group is a "proud independent news organization" and "no one tells Project Veritas who or what to investigate." Although he declined to discuss the details of the report, he also claimed that various sources are "providing confidential documents, insights into internal processes, and wearing hidden cameras to expose corruption and misconduct."

Past targets of Project Veritas have included the nonprofit healthcare organization Planned Parenthood, the political group Disrupt J20, and recently, David Wright, a 20-year veteran political correspondent at ABC News. Project Veritas has also recorded undercover video of a Times editor and approached the Washington Post with a false story about Roy Moore, a Republican Senate candidate in Alabama.

The Project Veritas operative inside AFT Michigan was Liberty University graduate Marisa Jorge, according to the Times. O'Keefe and Seddon used the code name "LibertyU" for Jorge when discussing the operation over email. Jorge, who also reportedly infiltrated the Spanberger campaign by posing as a volunteer, did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment. The federal lawsuit that AFT Michigan brought against Project Veritas is scheduled to go to trial later this year.

In a statement to the Times, AFT president Randi Weingarten said: "Let's be clear who the wrongdoer is here: Project Veritas used a fake intern to lie her way into our Michigan office, to steal documents and to spy—and they got caught. We're just trying to hold them accountable for this industrial espionage."

Weingarten added on Twitter Saturday, "They didn't succeed in their attempt to hurt our union but note what the right wing will do to try to eliminate workers' voice."

The Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill—who released the book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army in 2007—wrote on Twitter Saturday that with this piece, the Times "pushes the 2017 story from [The Intercept's Matthew Cole]⁩ forward about Erik Prince attempts to infiltrate liberal groups via Project Veritas."

Last year, Cole published an article for The Intercept titled "The Complete Mercenary: How Erik Prince Used the Rise of Trump to Make an Improbable Comeback."

Noting that Trump gave Project Veritas thousands of dollars through his foundation and met with O'Keefe shortly after announcing his run for president, Cole reported:

It is unclear if Trump's support of Project Veritas spurred Prince's interest in the group, but in late 2015 or early 2016, Prince arranged for O'Keefe and Project Veritas to receive training in intelligence and elicitation techniques from a retired military intelligence operative named Euripides Rubio Jr. According to a former Trump White House official who discussed the Veritas training with Rubio, the former special operative quit after several weeks of training, complaining that the Veritas group wasn't capable of learning. Rubio did not respond to requests for comment.
In the winter of 2017, Prince arranged for a former British MI6 officer to provide more surveillance and elicitation training for Veritas at his family's Wyoming ranch, according to a person with direct knowledge of the effort. Prince was trying to turn O'Keefe and his group into domestic spies. For his part, O'Keefe posted photos on Instagram and Twitter from the Prince family ranch of himself holding a handgun with a silencer attached and wearing pseudo-military clothing. He described the ranch as a "classified location" where he was learning "spying and self-defense," in an effort to make Project Veritas "the next great intelligence agency."
"Erik was weaponizing a group that had close ties to the Trump White House," said the former White House official familiar with Prince's relationship with O'Keefe and Project Veritas.

Cole acknowledged the Times reporting on Twitter Saturday and highlighted a summary of it tweeted by The Atlantic's Adam Serwer:

Currently, the Times noted, "Prince is under investigation by the Justice Department over whether he lied to a congressional committee examining Russian interference in the 2016 election, and for possible violations of American export laws."

Former FBI assistant director and current NBC News national security contributor Frank Figliuzzi shared the Times report on Twitter Saturday and commented that "there are likely numerous criminal violations here."

The James O’Keefe-Donald Trump-Breitbart News Nexus

Weeks before Election Day, convicted criminal James O’Keefe has come forward with a new set of heavily edited video tapes that he claims prove the conservative myth of widespread voter fraud. Republican nominee Donald Trump is already incorporating the charge into what appears to be his campaign’s closing argument — that he is the victim of a “rigged” election system, and the only way he can lose is if the election is stolen from him.

Halfway through October, it is clear that Trump is reading from campaign CEO and Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon’s playbook.

O’Keefe, the right-wing videographer behind the nonprofits Project Veritas and Project Veritas Action, is currently rolling out a series of videos based on footage captured by undercover operatives who wore hidden cameras while interviewing Democratic political operatives. The heavily edited videos focus on the Democrats discussing efforts to have activists disrupt Trump events and discussing a proposal — made by the O’Keefe operatives filming them — to engage in a voter fraud plot.

O’Keefe has a long history of engaging in criminal, misogynistic, ethically dubious, and bizarre behavior related to his video stunts. He has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of entering a government office under false pretenses; sought to set up a video “sting” in which he would lure a female CNN reporter onto a boat filled with sex toys and attempt to seduce the reporter on camera; and had to pay a former video target $100,000 and publicly apologize in a legal settlement.

O’Keefe’s videos often make a big splash, but they fall apart under scrutiny by reporters and state investigations. His past work attempting to document the ease of voter fraud is no different. In 2012, Project Veritas released videos that O’Keefe claimed proved “widespread voter fraud” in several states and the District of Columbia. But the videos did not show any instances of voter fraud — or voting at all. Instead, the videos showed actors almost committing a crime by attempting to obtain the ballots of other people under false pretenses, and they accidentally illustrated how difficult it would be to commit actual voter fraud. O’Keefe claimed that another video showed voter fraud in North Carolina, including “ballots being offered out in the name of the dead” and “non-citizens voting.” But the “dead” voter from the video was not actually dead, and the “non-citizen” in the video had become a U.S. citizen decades earlier.

Media outlets were able to point out O’Keefe’s deceptive edits because Project Veritas previously released unedited raw footage from its hidden camera stings. The group has not done so for its latest election projects. Instead, media outlets reporting on the videos are relying solely on the snippets of video and the context that O’Keefe provides.

That matters because O’Keefe’s two latest videos edit down footage from undercover operatives working over a period of several months into 34 minutes of narrated video purporting to show progressive operatives “rigging the election.” “The editing raises questions about what was said and what may come out later,” as The Washington Post’s David Weigel pointed out.

As Time magazine’s Philip Elliott noted following a review of the videos, “Without the full context” omitted by the O’Keefe videos, “it’s impossible to know” what one operative meant in a quote featured in one of the videos, and that “there’s no way of telling if that person said what the tape purports” in another case. He says that exculpatory information showing operatives refusing to engage in voter fraud appears to have been excised; he notes that while some such commentary remains, it comes “long after viewers are convinced they are watching Watergate unfold in real time.”

That’s the review from a reporter who is viewing the tapes skeptically. No such skepticism is in evidence at the launching pad for the videos: Breitbart News. The right-wing website, which has been among Trump’s biggest boosters, received the exclusive on the first the videos O’Keefe released this week and has produced several stories on the allegations.

Trump has been mired in a downward spiral for the past several days, repeatedly claiming that the election has been rigged against him by the media and voter fraud. His claims have been rejected across thespectrum, including by Republican election lawyers and officials who have described the allegations as “unfounded” and “irresponsible” and said they could have “a destabilizing effect on the orderly administration of the election.”

The Trump campaign — headed by Bannon, who is on a leave of absence from his job running Breitbart News — has clung to O’Keefe’s videos as evidence that its candidate is actually right about the election being rigged. Bannon himself was investigated by Florida prosecutors earlier this year following a report that he “was registered in a home in Miami that he rented for his ex-wife.”

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway claimed during an interview on Fox News’ Hannity that the voter fraud video shows that “Donald Trump was ahead of his time. … He’s been talking about this for the last couple days. People have been criticizing him. He has no evidence. And here we see it goes right to the top.” Campaign surrogate Newt Gingrich said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should call on the FBI to open an investigation.

At a speech yesterday, Trump highlighted O’Keefe’s video on activists disrupting his rallies. It seems likely that he will use the “voter fraud” video to bolster his bogus claims of a rigged election at tonight’s final presidential debate.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters