Pro-life activist and undercover investigator David Daleiden calls the criminal charges he is facing in California “bogus” and “fake news.”
“We weren’t expecting them to file such a weak case, a case that probably won’t survive a couple of motions to dismiss,” Daleiden said Wednesday during an exclusive TV interview with journalist Lauren Ashburn on EWTN News Nightly With Lauren Ashburn.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra late Tuesday filed an arrest warrant and felony charges against Daleiden, lead investigator for the Center for Medical Progress, and his colleague Sandra Merritt for assuming false identities and using a fake bioresearch company to meet with abortion providers and covertly record videos of themselves trying to obtain fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Alleging that Daleiden’s undercover videos violate California state laws against secretly recording people without their consent, the attorney general said his office would “not tolerate the criminal recordings of confidential conversations.”
Said Becerra, “The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s constitution and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society.”
Daleiden challenged Becerra’s assertions, telling Ashburn that the state’s recording law does not apply to public conversations held in open locations. Daleiden said every recorded conversation mentioned in the attorney general’s complaint against him would be classified as a public discussion.
Daleiden’s attorneys say they expect the California charges will ultimately be dismissed, just as prosecutors dropped similar charges against the pro-life activists last year in Texas. They added that Daleiden will turn himself in to authorities within a week.
“When it comes to felony charges against our client, David Daleiden, history is on our side,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society.
Brejcha, a member of Daleiden’s legal team, said in prepared remarks that Daleiden and Merritt “will be vindicated” and that both will “assert robust defenses” to the charges. Brejcha said their undercover investigation sparked “numerous” criminal referrals by both U.S. Senate and House investigative committees.
In 2015, the Center for Medical Progress began releasing a series of undercover videos that featured Planned Parenthood officials and former employees discussing the organization’s practices regarding the selling of tissue and body parts procured from aborted fetuses.
Planned Parenthood and its allies attacked the videos as “heavily edited” and misleading, but Daleiden said they provided evidence that the country’s largest abortion provider traffics fetal body parts and sells them for profit, which is against federal law. Daleiden told EWTN’s Ashburn that he stands by his investigation, and he called for Planned Parenthood to be criminally indicted.
“The video camera doesn’t lie,” Daleiden said. “These are their own people, their own leadership, their own words, and they need to be held accountable for it.”
The day after the California attorney general announced the charges against Daleiden and Merritt, the Center for Medical Progress released a new undercover video recorded at the North American Forum on Family Planning, an annual conference of abortion and health care providers.
The video depicts Dr. DeShawn Taylor, a former Planned Parenthood official who now owns an abortion facility in Phoenix, Arizona, talking in frank terms about performing second-trimester abortions. Daleiden alleges the video may provide evidence of a cover-up of infanticide.
Asked by EWTN’s Ashburn about the timing of the video’s release, Daleiden said he did not know ahead of time that the criminal charges were being filed against him and added that the video was released because the “public needs to be reminded of the truly barbaric nature” of Planned Parenthood’s activities. He said that the Center for Medical Progress will be releasing more videos in the coming weeks.
Daleiden’s past investigation prompted authorities in about a dozen states to open their own investigations, though none of those inquiries found evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Although Planned Parenthood denied any wrongdoing, the abortion provider apologized for some of the remarks its officials said on camera and later restricted its facilities from accepting payment for making fetal tissue available to researchers.
In a prepared statement responding to the latest events, Mary Alice Carter, interim vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood, said the only people who broke the law were Daleiden and Merritt, whom the Planned Parenthood Federation of America termed “anti-abortion extremists.”
Said Carter, “The California attorney general filing criminal charges sends a clear message that you cannot target women and you cannot target health care providers without consequences. We look forward to justice being served.”
Meanwhile, pro-life investigators are highlighting the California attorney general’s connections to the abortion giant. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Becerra has received slightly more than $5,500 in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood affiliates since 1998.
Becerra, a Democrat and former congressman, succeeded the former attorney general, Kamala Harris, who is now a U.S. senator from California. Harris initiated the investigation into Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress.
In April 2016, agents assigned to the attorney general’s office executed a search warrant at Daleiden’s Huntington Beach apartment, where they seized documents, digital evidence and video footage of Planned Parenthood activities.
The affidavit filed with the charging documents alleges that Daleiden and Merritt used doctored California driver’s licenses and a fake medical research company, BioMax Procurement Services, to attend the National Abortion Federation’s 2014 conference in San Francisco. Using their fake identities and sham company, the defendants are alleged to have recorded attendees and speakers at the conference, and then setting up subsequent meetings with abortion providers and recording those conversations without their consent.
The attorney general’s office filed 14 felony counts of unlawfully recording people without their permission — one count for each person — and one count of conspiracy to invade privacy.
In addition to predicting that the charges will be dismissed, Daleiden told EWTN’s Ashburn that Planned Parenthood — the target of current congressional efforts to strip the abortion giant of about $500,000 in federal funding — “is very desperate right now” and lashing out because it is faced with “imminent extinction.”
Daleiden said Planned Parenthood should be the entity facing prosecution.
Said Daleiden, “Planned Parenthood is not above the law. The types of atrocities against humanity they’ve been committing in their late-term abortion and baby-parts business over the past decade, and longer, are horrific. Americans are shocked and horrified by it. We don’t want our tax dollars to contribute to something like that, and Planned Parenthood needs to be held accountable to the law, just like any other organization.”
Register correspondent Brian Fraga writes from Fall River, Massachusetts.