A Tampa-based criminal defense lawyer and Republican Party activist turned up at a key moment last month in a mysterious case involving the possible theft and sale of a diary belonging to President Joe Biden’s daughter.
The lawyer, Adam Bantner, who’s also a former Tampa Tiger Bay Club president and judicial candidate, cited client confidentiality and declined to answer most questions about the case in a recent interview.
The New York Times reported last month that late in the 2020 presidential campaign, the diary ended up in the hands of Project Veritas, a conservative, self-styled investigative organization. It’s known for attempting to hoax mainstream journalists and liberal groups into controversial statements or actions and has been accused of altering undercover videotapes and recordings to make its subjects seem nefarious.
The diary disappeared after Ashley Biden left it and other belongings in a Delray Beach house where she had been staying and went temporarily to Delaware during the presidential campaign. She had previously been in rehab in Florida, the Times reported.
Citing court filings, the Times reported that Project Veritas said it learned of the diary in September, 2020, and bought it from a Trump supporter who moved into the house after Biden moved out. The organization said it was told the diary had been abandoned and was acquired legally.
Project Veritas didn’t publish the diary but sought to use it as leverage to demand an on-camera interview with Joe Biden shortly before the election. Another conservative group published the diary, but it got little attention.
Project Veritas head James O’Keefe, in a statement, said the group later “gave the diary to law enforcement to ensure it could be returned to its rightful owner.”
In fact, it was Bantner who turned up at the Delray Beach police station the Sunday after the election and turned over luggage containing the diary and other Ashley Biden belongings.
The police report on the incident quotes Bantner as saying his client, whom he wouldn’t identify, “told Adam that the property is possibly stolen and he got it from an unknown person at a hotel which the client refused to share.”
The police determined it was Biden’s and contacted the FBI.
In an interview, Bantner declined to identify his client or discuss how he came to be involved.
But he denied that his client told him the material might be stolen. He said he doesn’t remember whether he told the police that, but, “If I did, it was a misstatement.”
An FBI investigation is ongoing, the Times reported, but Bantner declined to say whether he’s been contacted.