I find this disturbing on several levels.
Recall the background: James O’Keefe surreptitiously taped himself and two companions in Senator Mary Landrieu’s office. He has maintained from the beginning that he was engaged in undercover journalism, attempting to expose whether Landrieu actually had a problem with her phones that would explain why constituents received busy signals when they called about her position on ObamaCare. The government, by contrast, charged O’Keefe with intending to commit a felony, suggesting that the behavior of O’Keefe and his companions showed that they intended to do something nefarious and felonious inside the office.
Ultimately, the government apparently could not prove its case, and yesterday gave O’Keefe a misdemeanor — presumably because they lacked proof of this felonious intent.
I have said from the beginning that viewing the tape would shed light on this. After all, O’Keefe was making an undercover tape. It has all the evidence on it. That tape would reveal whether O’Keefe is telling the truth.
And now the judge has ordered that potentially exculpatory evidence destroyed.
I contacted O’Keefe last night to ask when we could expect to see this tape. He told me that he wanted the tape back, but that the judge had said in open court that he wanted it destroyed, and instructed federal agents to destroy the evidence before returning the camera to O’Keefe.
I find this astounding — first, that O’Keefe got this far in the proceedings without the government disclosing the key evidence in the case to him and his attorney, and second, that the evidence will now be destroyed.
Why destroy it? To my knowledge, O’Keefe and his companions never accessed any part of the office that was not open to the public. They did not receive any sensitive information regarding Sen. Landrieu’s phone lines that would be useful to a terrorist.
And if O’Keefe is telling the truth, the tape would exonerate him in the public eye.
O’Keefe wants the tape back. The judge told the government not to let him have it.
What does that tell you?