Two Florida residents on Aug. 25 pleaded guilty to federal charges over their handling of a diary penned by President Joe Biden’s daughter.
Aimee Harris, 40, of Palm Beach, and Robert Kurlander, 58, of Jupiter, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property.
According to prosecutors, Biden’s daughter was storing the diary at a private home in Delray Beach, where Harris was residing, in September 2020. Harris “stole the property” and enlisted Kurlander to help her facilitate its sale, charging documents state.
Kurlander texted Harris that he could “make a [expletive] of money” from selling the property, which included a diary, tax records, and a digital storage card containing photographs.
The pair tried to sell the items to a rival presidential candidate’s campaign, which wasn’t identified, but were turned down.
Harris and Kurlander then met with employees of an unnamed organization in New York City and handed over the property. They were later paid $20,000 each by the organization.
“Harris and Kurlander stole personal property from an immediate family member of a candidate for national political office. They sold the property to an organization in New York for $40,000 and even returned to take more of the victim’s property when asked to do so. Harris and Kurlander sought to profit from their theft of another person’s personal property, and they now stand convicted of a federal felony as a result,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams, a Joe Biden appointee, said in a statement.
“As a consequence of their actions, they now face punishment in the federal criminal justice system for their crimes,” added Michael Driscoll, an assistant director for the FBI.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did a lawyer for Ashley Biden.
Lawyers for Harris and Kurlander weren’t listed in the court system.
The plea agreements haven’t yet been made public. According to the government, Kurlander agreed to cooperate with authorities as part of the agreement.
The guilty pleas were entered in federal court in the borough of Manhattan.
The charges carry up to five years in prison.
Nonprofit journalism group Project Veritas, headed by James O’Keefe, said it came into possession of Ashley Biden’s purported diary in 2020.
Two individuals, with the initials A.H. and R.K., contacted Project Veritas through a proxy in 2020, Paul Calli, a lawyer for Project Veritas, said in an earlier court filing.
“Prior to this contact, neither James O’Keefe nor anyone at Project Veritas knew or had even heard of R.K. and A.H. Those two individuals represented that they had material (including a diary) that Ashley Biden had abandoned at a house where she had been staying in Delray Beach, Florida,” Calli said.
“Project Veritas had no involvement with how those two individuals acquired the diary. All of Project Veritas’s knowledge about how R.K. and A.H. came to possess the diary came from R.K. and A.H. themselves,” Calli said.
R.K. and A.H. requested payment from Project Veritas and an agreement was reached that saw the pair deliver the diary and other materials to Project Veritas after they attested that they had come into possession of the items lawfully, according to Calli.
Project Veritas ultimately opted not to release the diary or run any news stories on it.
“Despite having credible evidence that the diary belonged to Ashley Biden, Project Veritas and Mr. O’Keefe ultimately could not confirm the diary’s authenticity to the degree they required to satisfy their journalistic ethics,” Calli said.
Project Veritas handed over the diary to local law enforcement in Florida.
“Project Veritas’ news gathering was ethical and legal. A journalist’s lawful receipt of material later alleged to be stolen is routine, commonplace, and protected by the First Amendment,” a spokesman for Project Veritas told The Epoch Times in an email.
The homes of O’Keefe and other Project Veritas employees were raided in 2021 by FBI agents as part of an investigation into stolen property being transported across state lines, government lawyers said in court filings.
The raids were illegal and Project Veritas has done nothing wrong, O’Keefe and Calli have said.
They successfully petitioned the court to appoint an independent third party to separate materials not related to the probe.
National File, an online publication, published pages from what it said was Ashley Biden’s diary in October 2020.
The outlet said it obtained the document “from a whistleblower who was concerned the media organization that employs him would not publish the materials in the final days before the presidential election.”
A handwriting expert was employed to verify the pages were penned by Joe Biden’s daughter, according to National File, which also said it reviewed a recording of Ashley Biden acknowledging the diary belonged to her.
National File didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Calli said the group wasn’t involved with the publication of the diary.
“No Project Veritas employee had authority to, or was directed to, provide the diary to National File. Nor to provide it to anyone else. Project Veritas had no involvement in National File’s publication of the diary and had no advance knowledge that National File intended to publish it,” Calli said.