Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Conservative undercover journalist James O'Keefe holds a news conference at the National Press Club September 1, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

'Absolutely Shocking': Federal Prosecutors Use Project Veritas Video in Case Against J20 Protesters

One activist said it is "appalling" that the government is relying so heavily on far-right and "widely discredited" sources

Jake Johnson

Just a day after the right-wing group Project Veritas was busted attempting to discredit the Washington Post with a fake sexual assault story, federal prosecutors on Tuesday took the "absolutely shocking" step of using a Veritas video as part of their case against several of the nearly 200 demonstrators facing "rioting" charges for taking part in January's anti-Trump protests during his inauguration.

"The fact that they have to fall back on using these far-right trolls, which are widely discredited, not only speaks to the illegitimacy of their case, but also a fundamental relationship between the Trump administration and the alt-right."
—James Anderson, It's Going Down
Jude Ortiz, a member of Defend J20 Resistance—a group supporting the protesters in the ongoing trial—called the video "a dubious piece of evidence at best" and said "it's appalling that it's coming from the far right."

The video is the product of Project Veritas operatives' infiltration of Disrupt J20 meetings in the weeks leading up to President Donald Trump's inauguration. Directed by right-wing provocateur James O'Keefe, Project Veritas is notorious for recording and heavily editing videos to smear organizations it dislikes (Planned Parenthood, for instance).

While secret videos taken during the pre-inauguration meeting have been used to claim that anti-Trump groups planned to commit acts of violence and destruction, Disrupt J20 said in a statement that the infiltrators were discovered and fed "false plans."

Tuesday was not the first time the U.S. government has used videos from far-right sources in their case against the inauguration protesters, some of whom could face decades in prison if convicted.

"The U.S. attorney's office has also submitted video from the Oath Keepers, a rightwing militia group that has been present at 'alt-right' rallies," the Guardian reports.

James Anderson, a member of the anti-fascist coalition It's Going Down, argued that the government is relying on "widely discredited" sources like Project Veritas—which is run by right-wing provocateur James O'Keefe—because it "doesn't have very much to go on."

"The fact that they have to fall back on using these far-right trolls, which are widely discredited, not only speaks to the illegitimacy of their case, but also a fundamental relationship between the Trump administration and the alt-right," Anderson told the Guardian.

The inauguration protesters' trial began on November 15. Civil liberties groups have strongly criticized the government for bringing such harsh charges against demonstrators, arguing that law enforcement indiscriminately swept up peaceful demonstrators.

Steven McCool, an attorney for one of the six protesters currently getting their time in court, argued during testimony last week that the J20 "case is about our freedom to associate with one another and express political views freely."

"The police failed to discriminate between lawbreakers and protesters," McCool concluded.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·

Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

"If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities, needlessly contributing to more death and destruction."

Brett Wilkins ·

Citing Donziger Case, Dems Raise Alarm About Use of Private Prosecutors in Federal Court

Private prosecutions of criminal contempt charges, said a pair of senators, "are highly unusual and can raise concerning questions of fundamental fairness in our criminal justice system."

Jessica Corbett ·

'About Damn Time': DOJ Says Treasury Department Must Give Trump's Tax Returns to Congress

"This case is now bigger even than Donald Trump's crimes. Neither the courts, nor the machinery of our government, exist to bodyguard a corrupt private citizen from transparency."

Jake Johnson ·

'Just Say That the Election Was Corrupt,' Trump Told DOJ in December

"It was a failed coup. Call it what it was. It didn't work! But they sure as hell tried."

Kenny Stancil ·