The conservative activist group Project Veritas teamed up with a former British spy to expose anti-Trump sentiments inside the government, The New York Times reports.
The scheme involved a sting operation targeting Trump’s then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster. The effort also included secret surveillance operations targeting FBI employees.
Female undercover operatives set up dates with FBI employees in hopes of “secretly recording them making disparaging comments about Mr. Trump,” the Times reported.
The plot was aided by Richard Seddon, a former British spy who was recruited by Blackwater founder Erik Prince to train Project Veritas operatives. Though Project Veritas was involved in the effort, it’s unclear if they led it.
The Times previously reported that Seddon held field training for the operatives and helped them gain access to Democratic congressional campaigns and trade unions. He also led a hiring effort that nearly tripled the group’s employees.
Did Trump know?
It’s unclear whether Trump, who has funded Project Veritas and promoted their undercover “stings,” or any of his advisers were aware of the effort. But one of the participants told the Times that she was hired by someone with “access to McMaster’s calendar.”
The plot targeting McMaster involved hiring a woman to secretly capture him making inappropriate comments on a hidden camera.
The plot was ultimately dropped in March 2018 when McMaster resigned for unrelated reasons.
Around the same time, Seddon urged Project Veritas to set up base at an estate near Georgetown to target FBI employees. The group used fake dating app profiles to lure FBI employees, though it’s unclear if they got what they were looking for.
Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe called the report a “smear piece.”
“Because The New York Times is losing to Project Veritas in a court of law, it is trying to smear Project Veritas in the court of public opinion,” he told the Times. “I think the court, like me, may well be appalled at The New York Times’s continued pattern of defamation of Project Veritas.”