Donald Trump and James O'Keefe from Project Veritas

Photos via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA) Remix by Jason Reed

Trump’s long history of supporting James O’Keefe’s dubious anti-liberal stings

Trump has repeatedly endorsed the fringe political operative's work.

 

David Covucci

Tech

Published Nov 28, 2017   Updated May 22, 2021, 9:47 am CDT

An ignominious figure in the political realm for years, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe exploded back onto the national scene on Monday following news that his organization apparently tried to dupe the Washington Post by feeding them fake allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

While jarring, the tactic is in line with the standard operating procedure for O’Keefe’s organization, which has been accused of using numerous underhanded tactics to discredit both Democrats and the mainstream media alike. Videos from O’Keefe routinely feature selective and willfully misleading editing to portray subjects in negative and inaccurate light, and O’Keefe has engaged in illegal and unethical practices while carrying out his projects.

Considering the political provocateur’s history of attacking media bias, this may come as no surprise: President Donald Trump likes James O’Keefe.

As news of the Moore story went viral, Post reporter David Fahrenthold revealed that Trump made a $10,000 donation to Project Veritas back in 2015.

Trump, who has been an ally of the fringes of conservativism long before his campaign began, has also thoroughly endorsed O’Keefe on Twitter for his work.

Trump’s most enthusiastic tweets involve O’Keefe’s work attempting to unearth fraud in former President Barack Obama‘s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. One of Trump’s biggest campaign promises was to end Obamacare, which he considered a hotbed of government waste and mismanagement. In November and December of 2013, he shared multiple articles about an O’Keefe project.

O’Keefe’s Obamacare scoop on fraud in the system was covered breathlessly in conservative circles, getting picked up by the National Review, the Daily Caller, and Breitbart. Here’s how Breitbart put it when the video released:

“We already knew that ObamaCare Navigators were not all properly vetted, but who could have predicted that James O’Keefe would be able to get them encouraging fraud on camera, so soon?

The video centers around several “Navigators” who work for non-profits that received government grants to help people sign up for in person for Obamacare. In the video, one woman, identified as Mrs. Dorothy, tells an undercover Veritas operative to not report cash income to help qualify for subsidies. She also says to lie because “your premiums will be higher.” In the video, another Navigator echoes a similar sentiment.

It was instantly branded as an effort to defraud the government and culminated in a House Oversight Committee report by Republicans. After releasing the report, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas) went on Sean Hannity‘s show on Fox News to discuss the matter. Issa himself referenced another one of O’Keefe’s discredited works, his infamous “ACORN” sting, which landed O’Keefe in legal trouble and forced him to pay a $100,000 settlement and issue a formal apology.

Mrs. Dorothy was fired after the video was released, and other Navigators were suspended.

In another O’Keefe sting, Trump enthusiastically blasted the “hypocrisy” of reporters who refused to declare their houses gun-free zones after Veritas agents randomly knocked on their doors and asked them to sign a pledge.

In the video, reporters for news organizations in New York frequently say they agree with Veritas’ “gun-free” idea but didn’t want to sign a random pledge from strangers to put a sign on their lawn declaring they didn’t own a gun.

Trump, who also launched a voter fraud commission after falsely claiming that millions of people vote illegally in the 2016 election, was also a fan of O’Keefe’s efforts around voter discrimination.

In the Veritas video Trump references in the above tweet, O’Keefe’s employee went undercover and spoke with a “salaried employee of the DNC.” The staff member who appears in the video never tells the Veritas person filming to vote twice, despite the video being framed in that fashion. The Houston, Texas, field officer for the Democratic National Committee does offer a Veritas employee an absentee ballot to vote in Florida, where the woman says she is also registered to vote, as well as Texas.

After the 2016 election, numerous members of Trump’s inner circle were revealed to have similarly been registered to vote in two states. It is not, for the record, illegal to be registered to vote in two states; actually voting in two states, however, is.

Trump also jumped on another 2012 O’Keefe video that claimed to expose voter fraud in Vermont.

Both those efforts were in the lead up to 2012. But in the run-up to his election win, O’Keefe launched a series called “Rigging the Election,” where he filmed members of political organizations that were supporting Clinton. In one video, Scott Foval of Americans United for Change discussed possible methods to help Clinton win, which O’Keefe claimed an attorney told him was “strong evidence of criminality.”

Foval was fired after he was filmed discussing how to hard it would be to prosecute voter fraud and how it could be theoretically carried out.

Trump surrogate Kellyanne Conway went on Hannity on Oct. 18, 2016, the day the video was released, and endorsed O’Keefe’s work, saying how in line it was with Trump’s thinking.

“Once again, Donald Trump was ahead of his time,” she said. “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.”

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*First Published: Nov 28, 2017, 8:12 am CST