A few years before her nomination by Joe Biden to a lifetime judicial position, Judge Sarah Netburn authorized an order that required Google to secretly provide criminal investigators with information from the email account of a journalist who had accessed Ashley Biden’s diary.

During her confirmation hearings this week, Judge Sarah Netburn faced sharp criticism from Republican senators for alleged partisanship. One contentious issue was her decision to house a repeat sexual offender in a female prison because the individual identified as a woman. Senators, including Ted Cruz from Texas, accused her of prioritizing ideology over jurisprudence, the Daily Wire reported.

However, her actions in 2020 were not mentioned. As a federal magistrate judge in New York, Netburn signed an order compelling Google to provide information from a Project Veritas journalist’s personal email account, court records show. Project Veritas had purchased Ashley Biden’s diary after a woman claimed she found it when she moved into a room previously occupied by Ashley Biden.

Ashley Biden

The Daily Wire added:

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The conservative-leaning journalism outfit ultimately decided not to publish the diary. Nonetheless, lawyers for Ashley Biden contacted the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which turned the missing diary into a federal case.

The contents of the diary, in which the president’s daughter discusses drug addiction and questions whether her sexual compulsion stemmed from Joe Biden allegedly showering with her as a child, had the potential to be politically explosive.

Netburn granted the ruling favorably to Ashley Biden, in spite of First Amendment implications, in December 2020, after Joe Biden had won the presidential election but while Donald Trump was still in office. Three and a half years later, Joe Biden nominated Netburn for a lifetime appointment to the position of District Judge for the Southern District of New York.

The court order signed by Netburn directed Google to provide information related to the personal account of a Project Veritas journalist. The order also prohibited Google from informing the journalist about this action, preventing the journalism outfit from challenging the decision. “The information sought is relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation, and that disclosure to any person of this investigation of this application and order… would seriously jeopardize the investigation,” the order said. The application for a search warrant was also sealed, so it is unknown exactly what prosecutors told Netburn.

The case became public after prosecutors executed pre-dawn raids at the homes of three former Project Veritas journalists, drawing condemnation from even left-leaning civil liberties groups.

Prosecutors eventually obtained warrants from Apple, Microsoft, and other providers through other magistrate judges, insisting they remain sealed. In 2022, Microsoft realized the case was already well-publicized, undermining the government’s argument for continued sealing. Consequently, prosecutors filed an order to lift the non-disclosure agreements, which the judge signed.

In May 2022, Project Veritas’ lawyers wrote to Netburn that the subpoenas were “unprecedented government invasions into the newsgathering work of Project Veritas, which lawfully received an abandoned diary and other personal effects previously belonging to an adult child of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.”

“There is no potential crime to investigate, only First Amendment-protected newsgathering,” it wrote, saying that, “while the government continues to peddle the lie that the diary — or other abandoned belongings — were ‘stolen,’ it has produced no support for its false claim.”

Even if it were stolen, precedent holds that “journalists may lawfully receive materials from sources even if that material is illegally obtained by sources themselves,” it argued.

Disclaimer: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.