Federal prosecutors show jury Project Veritas videos in trial of Trump inauguration protesters

Prosecutors are relying on discredited organization's undercover work to make their case.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Mark Tenally
CREDIT: AP Photo/Mark Tenally

The trial continues this week in the federal government’s unprecedented prosecution of the first of some 200 protesters arrested in a dragnet for protesting President Trump’s inauguration. One piece of evidence being used in the case is undercover video of an organizing meeting produced by Project Veritas, the propaganda group known for deceptive editing and other unethical practices.

Though it has repeatedly been discredited, this week Project Veritas was particularly humiliated when the Washington Post caught one of the organization’s employees trying to pose as a victim of rape by Alabama candidate Roy Moore. The newspaper’s reporters turned the tables, filming the woman as she struggled to legitimize her story. The Washington Post also filmed a subsequent encounter with James O’Keefe, the head of the organization. Project Veritas was also caught by the post deceptively editing that video to make O’Keefe look better.

Nevertheless, a day later, it was Project Veritas videos being used in the courtroom to prosecute the protesters.

The prosecution’s case is that anybody who attended the meeting Project Veritas infiltrated or who was swept up during the protests is guilty of conspiracy to riot, essentially punishing the entire group for acts of vandalism committed by only a few individuals. Some are being prosecuted simply for attending the organizing meeting, even without evidence they attended the protest itself.

Project Veritas is known for heavily editing its videos, and that is apparent in the videos introduced in this case as well. One of the videos prosecutors have introduced comes from the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group, and it overlays audio from a Project Veritas video with a slideshow of pictures from the protest. As The Daily Beast reported, the Oath Keepers worked directly with Project Veritas on the sting operation to target the protest organizers.

The authenticity of another video is also in question. One of the U.S. attorneys reportedly claimed Tuesday it had not been altered despite the fact she’d previously admitted that an officer’s face had been redacted.

Project Veritas has bragged that it “took an unprecedented measure and brought our footage to the FBI, the Secret Service, and the DC Metro Police.” It’s unclear how much the organization edited or filtered what it shared.

As ThinkProgress reported, the organization has actually received significant donations from the Trump Foundation. Its videos are being used to prosecute anti-Trump protesters.