Exclusive: Court Document Reveals Government’s Admission That It Lacked Evidence That O’Keefe Intended to Commit Felony — A Fact the Government Omitted from Its Press Release!
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana has filed a court document admitting that James O’Keefe did not intend to tamper with the phones at Mary Landrieu’s office, or commit any other felony.
Oh — and the good folks at the Department of Justice don’t particularly want you to know that. This post reveals that, at O’Keefe’s hearing, the Assistant U.S. Attorney tried not to read that part of the document in court. What’s more, the U.S. Attorney pointedly omitted this critical information from their press release.
The news of the Government’s admission broke yesterday, when Big Journalism’s Larry O’Connor reported that a court document filed in James O’Keefe’s criminal case bearing the title “Final Factual Basis” contains the following language:
In this case, further investigation did not uncover evidence that the defendants intended to commit any felony after the entry by false pretenses despite their initial statements to the staff of Senatorial office and GSA requesting access to the central phone system. Instead, the Government’s evidence would show that the defendants misrepresented themselves and their purpose for gaining access to the central phone system to orchestrate a conversation about phone calls to the Senator’s staff and capture the conversation on video, not to actually tamper with the phone system, or to commit any other felony.
This news, which O’Connor relayed at the end of a post about Media Matters’ dishonesty, is a significant piece of news that deserves its own post. It is especially noteworthy because this paragraph comes from a version of the facts that the Government has agreed to by way of stipulation. The document contains the following language showing the Government’s agreement:
Both the Government and the defendants, JOSEPH BASEL, STAN DAI, ROBERT FLANAGAN, and JAMES O’KEEFE, do hereby stipulate and agree that the above facts are true and that they set forth a sufficient factual basis for the crime to which the defendants are pleading guilty.
In other words, the Government has admitted that it has no evidence that James O’Keefe ever intended to tamper with Landrieu’s phone system, or commit any other felony.
This post reveals, for the first time, the entire document setting forth the facts stipulated to by the Government. You may read the document, which has been signed by the Assistant U.S. Attorney, here.
What’s more, the Government apparently didn’t want to publicize this embarrassing part of the agreed-upon facts, omitting any mention of it in their press release — and attempting not to read it in open court, until the defense attorneys caught the AUSA’s omission.
O’Keefe told me last night that Assistant U.S. Attorney Ginsberg summarized the stipulated factual basis in open court, but initially omitted any mention of the paragraph I just quoted. (Consistent with O’Keefe’s statement that the AUSA read the statement in open court, there is a minute order which states: “Factual basis for guilty plea provided by summarized testimony of Jordan Ginsberg, AUSA.”)
According to O’Keefe, attorneys for Stan Dai and Joe Basel then asked the court to have the prosecutor read that paragraph aloud. O’Keefe told me that the prosecutor then somewhat reluctantly read the statement to the court. O’Keefe told me: “I was concerned the reporters in the back, thinking the statement was over, would not be paying attention as the prosecutor obliged.”
Since I can find no mention of the paragraph in any reported Big Media news story, it appears that O’Keefe’s concern was justified.
Rubbing salt in the wound, the U.S. Attorney’s Office then issued a press release that summarized the facts in the stipulated factual basis — but which rather pointedly omitted the very same language that the Assistant U.S. Attorney was reluctant to read aloud in court . . . the language which shows O’Keefe and his companions never intended to tamper with the phones or commit any felony.
And then, of course, perennial O’Keefe ankle-biter Brad Friedman came along and falsely claimed that the heavily edited and deceptive press release showed that O’Keefe had indeed engaged in a “wiretap plot.” Friedman was, of course, lying — and his libel was oafishly republished by Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert on his Twitter feed.
Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert, caught with his pants down once again.
So, in conclusion:
- The Government charged O’Keefe with a felony when there was never any evidence to back it up.
- The Government finally pled it out to a misdemeanor because the Government had no choice — because the Government lacked evidence of felonious intent on the part of O’Keefe.
- The judge ordered the tape, which would have shown that O’Keefe was merely doing a video sting, to be destroyed.
- The Assistant U.S. Attorney tried not to read language showing O’Keefe never intended to tamper with the phones.
- The U.S. Attorney’s office omitted any reference to that language in their press release.
- Brad Friedman and Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert then dishonestly trumpeted the dishonest press release as evidence of a “wiretap plot.”
Did I leave anything out of the story of how this man was shamefully treated by the Government, the judicial system, and the lying scoundrels on the Internet? Or does that pretty much cover it?
UPDATE: The original version of this post embedded a version of the factual basis which (as noted in the post) was not yet signed by the Government. This is something I explicitly noted in the original post:
(Observant readers will note that the version uploaded here is not signed by the Government, but only by O’Keefe’s attorney. However, O’Keefe, who sent me the document, tells me that it is indeed the final stipulated factual basis agreed to by the Government. The version you see at the link is simply the version his attorney e-mailed him before the sentencing hearing. At that hearing, the same document was then signed by O’Keefe and the Assistant U.S. Attorney. I have not yet been able to independently verify O’Keefe’s statement, since the final version of the document is not yet available on PACER. O’Keefe tells me he is working on obtaining a copy signed by the Assistant U.S. Attorney; I will post that as soon as I receive it.)
I have since obtained the version signed by the Government, and have changed the link in the post to direct readers to that more relevant version.