Two plead guilty to stealing Ashley Biden’s diary

Source: Hot Air

The NY Times reports that two people in Florida have pleaded guilty to stealing Ashley Biden’s diary.

Two Florida residents pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday to stealing a diary and other belongings of President Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden, and selling them to the conservative group Project Veritas in the final weeks before the 2020 election.

Aimee Harris, 40, and Robert Kurlander, 58, admitted they took part in a conspiracy to transport stolen materials from Florida, where Ms. Biden had been living, to New York, where Project Veritas has its headquarters.

Prosecutors said Mr. Kurlander agreed as part of a plea deal to cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation into how the diary was acquired by Project Veritas, whose deceptive operations against liberal groups and traditional news organizations made it a favorite of former President Donald J. Trump.

It has been pretty obvious since last year that the FBI’s real interest in this case (and the NY Times’ interest as well) had little to do with the diary and everything to do with going after Project Veritas. The FBI searched James O’Keefe’s home last November and though O’Keefe was specifically asked not to say anything about the search, he received a call from the NY Times within an hour. Now the people who stole the diary are apparently receiving consideration for cooperating with the DOJ’s investigation.

You may be asking yourself why the DOJ and the FBI are investigating the theft of a diary in the first place. The answer is that this isn’t being handled as a simple theft but as “conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property” which is a federal crime. Since the two thieves knew the diary was stolen (they stole it) and since it had a value of more than $5,000 (Project Veritas paid them $40,000) they could face up to 5 years in jail.

Receiving stolen goods is also a federal crime but only if you know the goods were stolen. In this case, O’Keefe has claimed the two thieves told him they found the diary abandoned in a house. Is there any evidence he knew the diary was stolen? The NY Times suggest that remains unclear but does not contradict PV’s claim that the thieves told them it was obtained legally.

Whether the Justice Department ultimately charges anyone who worked for Project Veritas is unclear. The group did not publish the diary…

Ms. Harris and Mr. Kurlander traveled to Manhattan to show Project Veritas the diary, telling operatives for the group that they had found it and other items at the Delray Beach home where Ms. Biden had been staying with a friend…

In early November 2020 — days after the election — Project Veritas arranged for Ms. Biden’s items to be taken to the Delray Beach Police Department, where a lawyer was captured on video saying the belongings might have been stolen.

None of that seems to contradict the claim that PV didn’t believe the diary was stolen when they agreed to purchase it. The fact that they said the belongings might have been stolen may have reflected concerns that only developed later about the veracity of the thieves’ story. However, the story also contains this claim:

…prosecutors said the two at one point disclosed to a Project Veritas operative that Ms. Biden had stored more items at the Florida house, and that they returned to the house to steal them at the operative’s request. The two later met with the operative in Florida and gave the additional stolen property to that employee, who shipped it to New York, prosecutors said.

Would that constitute receiving of stolen goods? The story told by the thieves was that the items including the diary were abandoned in a home but maybe the feds can make the case that asking them to go back for more items should have raised a red flag. Even so, were the additional items taken from the home valued at over $5,000? If not then they wouldn’t seem to meet the requirements for the federal crime in question. Was the purchase of the diary contingent on getting these additional items or was there a separate payment?

It doesn’t sound like a slam dunk to me but then I’m not an attorney. We’ll have to wait and see what turns up next.