In a video just released titled “Rigging the Election,” James O’Keefe of Project Veritas speaks with several Democrat officials who talk about tactics they use to incite violence at Donald Trump rallies. The audio is a little off at times, leaving certain parts difficult to hear, and there’s a long intro to the video. The meat of the video starts around 2:19 and is embedded above. However, the creator of the video, James O’Keefe, has faced trouble in the past for editing videos in a way that made them misleading.
Here’s what you need to know.
O’Keefe Interviewed Officials with Americans United for Change and Democracy Partners
James O’Keefe released a new Project Veritas video that puts a big question mark on the idea that Trump supporters are violent, placing the blame possibly back on a group of Democrats who are used purposefully to incite violent encounters during the rallies. O’Keefe spoke with Scott Foval, National Field Director for Americans United for Change, and Bob Creamer, founder of Democracy Partners, along with several activists. The video is edited, so although it appears that these organizations did incite violent interactions, according to what’s shown in the video, it’s unclear just how closely this was associated with the DNC or Clinton’s campaign.
“The whole point of it is that we know Trump’s people will freak the f*** out, his security team will freak out, and his supporters will lose their sh**,” Foval said during the undercover recording.
“We are contracted directly with the DNC and the campaign both,” Foval explained, adding that he’s contracted with Bob Creamer, but answers to the head of special events for the DNC and the Clinton campaign. “We are the primary mechanism as a team. Democracy Partners is the tip of the spear on that stuff.”
What’s unclear is whether the actions at the rallies are done in coordination with the DNC or separately. Since the videos are edited, it’s tough to tell in what order things were said, or what questions the statements were in response to. Foval later said on the video that they had to make sure there’s a “double blind” between what they do and the DNC, so the DNC has plausible deniability.
Officials Said They Made a Script That Involved Getting Trump Supporters to Punch Agitators
“There’s a script of engagement,” Foval said on the video. “Sometimes the crazies bite and sometimes the crazies don’t bite. … The key is initiating the conflict by having leading conversations with people who are naturally psychotic. I mean, honestly, it’s not hard to get some of these … to pop off. It’s a matter of showing up, to want to get into the rally, in a Planned Parenthood t-shirt. Or, Trump is a Nazi, you know… You can…. draw them to punch you.”
He talked about a schedule of ongoing events for Trump and Pence rallies that they update every day.
We have to have a central kind of agitator training…”
Foval explained that his work involves having built-in groups of people in New York, D.C., Colorado, Vegas, Minneapolis. Next, O’Keefe’s reporter talked to a Deputy Rapid Response Coordinator who said that if a riot or an engagement was branded a DNC protest or a Clinton campaign protest, it wouldn’t have the same effect. Zulema Rodriguez, another activist, then talked on the video about how they were behind a riot that turned violent, leading to the cancellation of a Trump rally in Chicago in March. Fights broke out between supporters and protesters at that event. She explained that she has calls with the DNC every day. (Once again, scrutiny should be used while viewing the video, as it’s unclear if her talks with the DNC are about riots or something completely different, due to video editing.)
We also did the Arizona one where we shut the highway down.”
Foval explained on the video that if someone is hurt or gets in legal trouble, he’ll support their bills. Even before Trump’s nomination, they were at work, he said. When Scott Walker grabbed a sign out of protester’s hand during a rally, “That was all us,” Foval said. “The guy that got roughed up is my counterpart,” he said.
A COPD sufferer who was assaulted at a Trump rally in North Carolina was also one of their activists who had been trained to bird-dog, Foval said. They put people in line at 6 a.m., so they’re at the front of the rally and they’re the ones asking Trump questions when he comes down. They train people two weeks ahead of time on birddogging.
Foval added on the video that they also hire mentally ill people “to do some crazy stuff.” He also makes sure they get a hotel, shower, and puts them in a program afterward.
James O’Keefe, Who Put Together the Video, Has Been Accused of Editing Misleading ACORN Videos
James O’Keefe, who put together this video, owns Project Veritas. The organization was formed in 2010 with the mission of investigating and exposing corruption, dishonesty, waste, and fraud.
In the past, O’Keefe has been accused of selectively editing videos and distorting chronologies of ACORN employees. He published hidden camera recordings in 2009 in which his associate dressed as a prostitute and he posed as her boyfriend, a law student. They tried to get damaging responses from employees of ACORN. The videos showed low-level ACORN employees in six cities providing advice on tax evasion and human smuggling. When he showed the videos, he was dressed in a pimp costume, but he wasn’t actually dressed that way when he visited the employees. ACORN employees shared his visits with the police after he left. By December 2009, an ACORN investigation cleared it of any wrongdoing, but noted that poor management contributed to unprofessional actions. The California Attorney General concluded the videos had been “severely edited.” The New York Times came to the same conclusion, saying that the sequence of some conversations was even changed. ACORN dissolved in March 2010. (Note that O’Keefe’s videos are a separate issue from the voter fraud questions that ACORN faced.)
In 2010, O’Keefe and three accomplices were arrested in New Orleans for attempting to illegally record a Senator. Two were dressed as telephone repairmen. O’Keefe was sentenced to three years’ probation and 100 hours of community service and a $1,500 fine.
In 2011, he staged encounters with workers that he claimed showed Medicaid fraud, but later examination showed there was no fraud.
In 2013, O’Keefe paid $100,000 to a former ACORN employee, Juan Carlos Vera, for misrepresenting Vera baed on selectively editing videotapes. The editing made Vera look like he was a willing participating in O’Keefe’s plan to smuggle women into the U.S. illegally. Vera said that he encouraged O’Keefe to share more information so he could turn him in to authorities. Vera lost his job because of the way the video was edited.
The video that O’Keefe released appears to show dogged attempts on some Democrats’ part to incite violence and create a violent narrative about Trump supporters. At the same time, the videos should be scrutinized closely, with an eye for when editing occurred in case anything wsa edited in a misleading way. After reviewing the videos and reading the full story, what do you think about what you saw? Let us know in the comments below.