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Ashley Biden, in Unsealed Letter to Judge, Detailed ‘pain’ from Diary Theft

US social worker and daughter of the US president Ashley Biden speaks on stage during the Human Rights Campaign’s 2024 Los Angeles dinner at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, March 23, 2024. 

Michael Tran | AFP | Getty Images

Ashley Biden, the daughter of President Joe Biden, wrote a judge to say she would not attend the criminal sentencing earlier this month of the woman who stole her diary because “it would only increase my pain.”

The highly emotional letter was unsealed by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain more than three weeks after the judge sentenced Aimee Harris to one month in federal jail and three months of home detention.

“My goal in asking Your Honor to impose a term of incarceration is to ensure that another woman isn’t bullied and shamed like this ever again,” Biden wrote. “The despair I have often felt will never truly go away. But I ask Your Honor to hold Ms. Harris accountable so that she thinks twice before doing it to someone else.”

Biden also asked Swain to sentence the Florida resident to prison followed by a lengthy probation period, according to the letter unsealed Thursday in Manhattan federal court.

The letter was unsealed at the request of The New York Times, whose lawyer David McCaw noted to Swain that Biden and prosecutors did not object to it being made public, while Harris took no position on the request.

Harris, 41, also was ordered to serve three years of probation and to forfeit the $20,000 she received for selling the stolen diary.

Harris pleaded guilty in August 2022 to conspiring two years earlier with Robert Kurlander, 61, to steal Biden’s diary and other items from the Florida home where Biden had previously lived, and to transport them over state lines for sale to the right-wing group Project Veritas.

Project Veritas did not publish the diary, but another right-wing outlet did, shortly before the 2020 presidential election, which Joe Biden won.

U.S. President Joe Biden and his daughter Ashley Biden attend a Juneteenth concert at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 13, 2023. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Harris was motivated to steal the diary to harm President Biden politically, a prosecutor said at her sentencing.

Kurlander, who also pleaded guilty in the case, is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25.

A lawyer for Biden attended Harris’ sentencing on April 9. The lawyer had said they would not add to what Biden said in her letter to Sweeney.

“I am deeply saddened that I even have to write this letter because my personal private journal was stolen and sold for profit,” Biden wrote in that April 8 letter.

“The point of the theft, I assume, was to be able to peddle grotesque lies by distorting my stream-of-consciousness thoughts,” Biden wrote. “The reason I have decided to not attend tomorrow’s sentencing in person is because it would only increase my pain. Nonetheless, I write to ask Your Honor to sentence the defendant to time in prison.”

Biden said that Harris’ theft of her diary and other items “constitute one of the most heinous forms of bullying, not to mention a complete violation of my privacy and personal dignity.”

“After being the victim of a crime in my early twenties, I developed PTSD,” Biden wrote, without detailing the nature of that crime.

“The journal that was stolen was part of my efforts to heal. I am a private citizen, targeted only because my father happened to be running to be President. In other words, the extensive work I have done to move past my trauma was undone by Ms. Harris’s actions.”

U.S. President Joe Biden and his daughter Ashley Biden attend a Juneteenth concert at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 13, 2023. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Biden also wrote, “The defendant’s actions have created a constant environment of anxiety, fear, and intimidation in which my innermost thoughts are constantly distorted and manipulated.”

She also wrote that despite the theft happening more than three years ago, while Joe Biden was running for president, “because of the publicity it drew — exactly as Ms. Harris intended — I am constantly re-traumatized by it.”

“I will forever have to deal with the fact that my personal journal can be viewed online,” Biden wrote. “Repeatedly, I hear others grossly misinterpret my once-private writings and lob false accusations that defame my character and those of the people I love.”

“Her actions were not only re-traumatizing to me, but constituted a horrific trauma in and of themselves. This ongoing harm is a direct result of Ms. Harris’s intentional actions,” the letter said.

In asking Sweeney to sentence Harris to prison and a long period of probation, Ashley wrote: “She should be held accountable for what she has done.”

“Not only did she demonstrate a complete lack of morality, but she lacks any respect for the rule of law as well,” Biden wrote. “I have spent much of my life trying to speak up for those who cannot find their voices. I am fortunate enough to have found mine, and I use it today — and every day — to make sure that bullies are held accountable.”

“Finally, I worry that a non-incarceratory sentence will send a message — to her and to others like her — that it is okay to violate and exploit others for your own personal gain, regardless of the humiliation and pain it causes,” Biden wrote. “Please send a message that these types of damaging criminal actions will not be tolerated.”

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