Patterico's Pontifications


Fifth Circuit: DOJ Failed to Investigate Misconduct of Prosecutors Who Prosecuted James O’Keefe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:45 pm

Well, they didn’t say it in quite those words, of course . . . but that’s the effect of their opinion.

I don’t have the time or energy to blog this that I once had, but regular readers will remember that I have written extensively about the perfidy of the New Orleans federal prosecutors who went after James O’Keefe.

Well, the Fifth Circuit came down with its opinion last week, and it wasn’t pretty. Power Line has more.

For my part, tonight, I’ll simply quote briefly from the Fifth Circuit opinion:

The reasons for granting a new trial are novel and extraordinary. No less [fewer — Ed.] than three high-ranking federal prosecutors are known to have been posting online, anonymous comments to newspaper articles about the case throughout its duration. The government makes no attempt to justify the prosecutors’ ethical lapses, which the court described as having created an “online 21st century carnival atmosphere.” Not only that, but the government inadequately investigated and substantially delayed the ferreting out of information about its in-house contributors to the anonymous postings.

It’s that last bit — the stonewalling by Eric Holder’s Justice Department — that I concentrated on in the past. Well, that, and the overlap (namely Jan Mann) between these prosecutors and the team that persecuted James O’Keefe.

But Holder’s gone. So what difference, at this point, does it make?



BREAKING: Rogue New Orleans Prosecutor Commented Anonymously on Articles About O’Keefe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:05 pm

Remember those rogue prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans who continually commented, anonymously, on articles in the local paper concerning their own cases? Regular readers will recall that I wrote about this extensively, including the way that the federal judge on the case laid into the prosecutors for their stunning lack of ethics. Two of those sock-puppeting prosecutors have resigned in disgrace, and managed to keep their licenses by agreeing to stay out of federal court so that judge and his colleagues will never have to look at them again.

If I added any value to that controversy, it was in noting that the office that was crawling with unethical sock-puppeteers . . . is the same office that had prosecuted James O’Keefe. Indeed, extremely observant readers may remember that I wrote, in November 2012:

AUSA Jan Mann is one of the people excoriated by the judge for leaving numerous comments on about a pending case and lying about it. Mann was quoted in the press at the time James O’Keefe was prosecuted by this same office. And at the time of O’Keefe’s prosecution, guess what she said?

Mann, the first assistant U.S. District Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, declined to talk about specifics of the case, but said there were are no ulterior motives with their case.

“We don’t try cases in the press,” Mann told “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is motivated by nothing more than what we believe is to mandate and enforce the existing laws that were put in place to ensure the safety and security of federal buildings.”

We don’t try cases in the press — unless we do so anonymously, and then lie to the court about it.

I wonder if they left anonymous comments about the O’Keefe case. I especially wonder whether they left such comments on Frankly, I don’t see how they could have helped themselves.

Always trust content from Patterico.

I knew in my bones that these prosecutors must have commented on articles about O’Keefe. I looked and looked for those comments, but never could find any.

Well, guess what?

James O’Keefe has.

Here is an image of “legacyusa” commenting on a James O’Keefe article at (the Web site of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.)

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.20.44 PM

Who is “legacyusa”? One of the sock-puppeting U.S. Attorneys from New Orleans — that’s who.

Beyond that, I can’t say more, because to be honest, I wrote this post last night, and scheduled it to publish today after O’Keefe’s press conference. And I don’t know what else O’Keefe has dug up, or how he is going to tie it to Landrieu (although the relationship between Landrieu and sock-puppeting disgrace Jan “we don’t try our cases in the press” Mann is well known).

More later.


Exclusive: Jim Letten Tells Charles C. Johnson That the Decision to Prosecute O’Keefe Was Made “At Highest Levels of the Justice Department”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 am

The following comes to us from Charles C. Johnson, the “good Charles Johnson” (not to be confused with the guy at Little Green Footballs who bans anyone who disagrees with him even slightly.) Back in July, Charles spoke to former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten about the video of Jim Letten’s angry confrontation with James O’Keefe, in which Letten called O’Keefe a “hobbit” and a “spud” and an “asshole” and threw O’Keefe’s book at him.

Charles has allowed me to publish the interview exclusively here at Mr. Letten is welcome to respond with his side. Indeed, I specifically extended that invitation to Letten by email upon the publication of this post. Here is Charles’s interview:

My conversation in mid-July with former U.S. Attorney and Tulane Law School Dean Jim Letten

I reached out to Letten on his Tulane email address and gave him my number. He called me and we spoke for twenty-five minutes. Letten kept asking for the conversation to be off the record, something I never agreed to.

In any event, Letten did not respect his own off the record request and went to another journalist, John Simerman, a writer for the New Orleans Advocate who has written positively about Letten in the past, including a very sympathetic portrait of the former U.S. Attorney only days after he resigned in disgrace.

Using information he could only have obtained from me, Letten talked to Simerman about O’Keefe. Simerman then wrote an article trashing O’Keefe. Letten, who is unnamed as a source in the article but most likely “a source with knowledge of the incident,” admitted in an email to having spoken with Simerman. By contrast Simerman reported that Letten “declined to comment on the incidents.” Simerman did not return a request for comment.

When asked if his own comments were appropriate, Letten attacked O’Keefe’s credibility and called him an “extreme right-winger partisan who does these kind of stunts.”

When I said that I had seen the videotape of O’Keefe offering his wife a copy of the book and that he seemed pleasant, Letten insisted that O’Keefe had “terrorized” his wife and “threatened” his family, an assertion he repeated throughout the conversation.

Letten, who had been the longest serving U.S. Attorney, resigned in December 2012 after his two top lieutenants, including first assistant Jan Mann who prosecuted O’Keefe, were caught posting anonymous comments on a major Louisiana newspaper site mocking the defense during a high-profile trial. When confronted by a federal judge about it, Letten’s top staffers lied. Letten, along with two others, including Mann, resigned in disgrace.

At the time of O’Keefe’s trial Mann refused to comment on the charges brought against O’Keefe. Mann told Fox that the U.S. Attorney’s office “[doesn’t] try cases in the press.”

Letten refused to answer whether O’Keefe’s case wasn’t subject to similar online sock puppetry, maintaining that O’Keefe was “appropriately prosecuted.” He did not answer questions as to how he could have known that if he recused himself from the prosecution.

O’Keefe has maintained that someone from the U.S. Attorney’s office leaked his privileged attorney-client emails, a subject he discusses at length in his book. Letten insists that he had nothing to do with it, if it indeed happened at all. “He’s just very deceitful and deceptive,” Letten said, who again said he had recused himself.

Letten wouldn’t say why he recused himself, but it is most likely because one of the defendants, including Robert Flagan, who is the son of the then acting U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Letten and Flagan are social acquaintances.

Letten insisted that he recused himself from the case, but after prodding acknowledged that it was “my office who continued to make the decision.” “When someone recuses themselves it isn’t done lightly,” Letten insisted.

The decision to prosecute O’Keefe and to accept Letten’s recusal was made at “the very highest levels of the Justice Department.” “[O’Keefe] was appropriately convicted.”

Letten declined to answer if his office worked with Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute O’Keefe.

There’s reason to think that he may have. Last month, J. Christian Adams, a voting rights expert, revealed documents that showed coordination by Holder’s Justice Department with Attorney General Richard Head of New Hampshire after O’Keefe’s successful voter fraud investigations. [Editor’s note: Richard Head has worked directly with Brett Kimberlin associate and professional harasser Neal Rauhauser.]

Insisting that O’Keefe wasn’t a “journalist,” Letten did not answer a question about whether O’Keefe should have been given the same protections as the so-called McConnell buggers, who were given First Amendment protections by the Justice Department. He persisted in refusing to answer the question.

Letten was indignant when asked why he took O’Keefe’s book only to throw it back at him. “Oh come on! I tossed it at him!”

Finally, I asked him if he felt his behavior was in keeping with the code of conduct that Tulane has for all its students and faculty. He declined to answer.

Bug Mitch McConnell, get treated like a journalist. Be James O’Keefe, get the book thrown at you.

That’s our Justice Department these days. Aren’t you proud?

UPDATE: Ken from Popehat makes the sound point that we can’t necessarily infer that McConnell’s bugger won’t be prosecuted just because he confessed in writing at months ago and has yet to be prosecuted. The Feds have a way of delaying action to such a degree that is mystifying to mere mortals.

UPDATE x2: Thanks very much to Instapundit for the link.


Louisiana U.S. Attorney Resigns; Prosecuted O’Keefe

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 am

His office prosecuted James O’Keefe. Now Jim Letten is resigning amid a scandal involving his office:

Letten’s move follows an ongoing scandal over anonymous Internet comments made by two of Letten’s top aides on a website for the newspaper concerning matters related to their work. One top prosecutor resigned earlier this year after a subject of the comments hired a skilled investigator, identified him and filed a defamation suit. The other top prosecutor was demoted as an investigation by the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility continues.

Meanwhile, at the end of last month, as an earlier Times-Picayune article details, a federal judge issued what the newspaper describes as a “tartly worded” order calling for investigation of possible leaks by Letten’s office concerning its prosecution of law enforcement officers over a fatal shooting of apparently unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

If it’s an effort to avoid further investigation, I hope it fails.


David Shuster and Keith Olbermann About to Be Sued for Defamation by James O’Keefe?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:56 am

Keith Olbermann in December:

OLBERMANN: “The Rumpus Room with Johnny Olson” will not be seen tonight on Dumont, so we can instead bring you “Countdown,” the longest continuously-running 8PM news hour on cable. Unless you consider Fox — “news.” We’re live each night at 8 Eastern. Every night is a “Best Of ‘Countdown'” night.

James O’Keefe — activist, pseudo-journalist, and convicted felon infamous for his ambush-style, selectively-edited interviews — faces a possible civil sexual-harassment suit.

. . . .

OLBERMANN: He’s on — O’Keefe that is — federal parole after he was charged with felony for attempting to maliciously interfere with Senator Landrieu’s office telephone system in New Orleans. Did he seem, especially in that context, fazed at all by what was going on in the courtroom?


There are several falsehoods there. O’Keefe is not a convicted felon. He pled to a misdemeanor. He is not on “parole.” He is on “probation.” He did not attempt to maliciously interfere with Senator Landrieu’s telephone system. As I noted yesterday and have noted in the past, the U.S. Attorney conceded that there was no evidence that O’Keefe intended to tamper with the phone system or commit any felony. This is from a document signed by the U.S. Attorney:

O'Keefe Government Admission 1

Olbermann is staring a lawsuit in the face, and he’s not the only one. As I reported yesterday, David Shuster made the exact same misrepresentation while hosting for Olbermann’s crappy show, calling O’Keefe a “convicted felon.” After I sent O’Keefe a link to my post, O’Keefe threatened to sue Shuster:

One last chance, @DavidShuster. Put in a correction today or legal action against you is imminent. I can and will prove you lied w/ malice.

No correction appeared, but Shuster did reappear on Twitter a couple of hours ago to pimp the inaccurate segment:

In case you missed it, my segment on @andrewbreitbart’s hypocrisy given @jamesokeefeIII via @CountdownKO

I’ll be sending O’Keefe a link to this post as well. Shuster and Olbermann had better issue retractions, pronto. It may be too late for Shuster. We’ll see if Olby is similarly arrogant and dismissive of the truth. Given his history . . .


James O’Keefe Gives His Side

Filed under: ACORN/O'Keefe,General — Patterico @ 9:02 am

The following is a document that James O’Keefe sent to me last night and has authorized me to publish. It is O’Keefe’s version of events in New Orleans. I believe this is the first time anywhere that he has publicly given his full statement of what occurred.

The document was drafted by lawyers based on O’Keefe’s statements, and was intended to be offered as the factual basis for his plea. O’Keefe confirmed for me that this document is an accurate account of what happened.

What Really Happened in New Orleans

Factual Basis

On January 25, 2010, Messrs. James O’Keefe, Stan Dai, Joe Basel, and Michael Flanagan (collectively “Defendants”) entered the Hale Boggs Federal Building located at 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, Louisiana (“Hale Boggs Building”), with no intent to commit a felony, but rather an intent to engage in political speech with respect to pending national healthcare legislation (the “Healthcare Bill”). During the several days before their entry to the Hale Boggs building, Defendants discussed opportunities to engage in independent journalism and political advocacy. One of the ideas raised during those discussions was a method to test the truthfulness of Senator Landrieu’s statements as to the reason for the inability of Tea Party members and other Louisiana constituents to contact her staff on the telephone to discuss her vote on the Healthcare Bill. The Defendants were advised that this was a recent story in the news in New Orleans.

Prior to the Defendants’ arrival in New Orleans there had been picketing of the Senator’s office by Tea Party Members and others. The controversy about Senator Landrieu’s phones was described in a prior news article as follows:

“We were stunned to learn that so many phone calls to Senator Landrieu have been unanswered and met with continuous busy signals,” Perkins said. “We asked them to call their Senators. They could get through to Senator Vitter, but not Senator Landrieu.”

“Our lines have been jammed for weeks, and I apologize,” Landrieu said in interview after giving a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

As a result, the Defendants devised what was, in retrospect, a poorly thought out plan to test the veracity of Senator Landrieu’s statements. The plan settled upon was for two of the Defendants to dress as telephone repairmen and, wearing an audio and video camera hidden in one of the hard hats they wore as part of their disguise, enter Senator Landrieu’s office and interview her staff while a third Defendant recorded the interviews using a second audio and video camera.

The group devised a plan involving disguises because they believed that if they simply entered Senator Landrieu’s office and identified themselves as journalists they would not likely receive truthful answers. They thought it likely that Senator Landrieu’s staff would be more candid with a repairman than a reporter. Looking back, the Defendants now recognize clearly that this plan was imprudent, and produced unintended security concerns and consequences that none of the Defendants anticipated. The Defendants agree that they should have anticipated these consequences and regret that they decided to proceed in that fashion.

Upon entering the Hale Boggs Building, the Defendants presented their real drivers license identifications to security officials and were not questioned as to the purpose of their visit to the Hale Boggs Building or where in the Hale Boggs Building they were going. Before passing through security, the Defendants placed all of their equipment (including all recording and video devices) through the security x-ray machines, as requested by the Hale Boggs Building security employees.

After passing through the Hale Boggs Building security checkpoint, the Defendants proceeded to the 10th floor, where Senator Landrieu’s office is located. Senator Landrieu’s office was and is open to the public and the Defendants entered through its open door. They spoke with members of Senator Landrieu’s staff, then separately left the Senator’s office and exited the Hale Boggs Building.

A short time later, the Defendants were “detained” by Federal Marshals. They believed they would be released when the US Marshals realized that they were journalists and immediately explained to the commanding US Marshal that they were journalists investigating whether Senator Landrieu wasn’t answering her calls.

Despite truthfully explaining, in detail, to the FBI and Federal Marshals that their purpose was solely to ask questions (and record the questions and answers) of Senator Landrieu’s staff regarding recently published statements by constituents that calls to Senator Landrieu’s staff concerning her vote in favor of the pending Healthcare Bill were not being returned and about the Senator’s public statement that her office phones had been “jammed,” Defendants were charged in a criminal complaint with a felony:

by false and fraudulent pretense enter and attempt to enter real property belonging to the United States of America with the intent to commit a felony: to wit, willful and malicious[s] interference with a working and use of a telephone system operated and controlled by the United States; in violation of Title 18 United States Code Section(s) 1036(a)(1), 1362, and 2.

At approximately 8 pm, the Defendants were taken from the Federal Building to the St. Bernard Parish Jail. The Defendants remained in jail overnight and were then transported the next afternoon in red jumpsuits and hand and leg irons back to the Hale Boggs Building where they were “arraigned” before Magistrate Judge Louis Moore, Jr., who released them on personal bonds of $10,000.

O’Keefe clarified to me that he and his companions entered only the public reception area of Sen. Landrieu’s office.

O’Keefe’s attorney Michael Madigan is scheduled to appear on Fox News Sunday tomorrow morning to discuss the prosecution.

More to come later today, including a post about the First Amendment implications of the judge ordering the destruction of the footage of O’Keefe’s foray into Landrieu’s offices, and a post about New York Magazine‘s retraction of the errors I highlighted here the other day.

UPDATE: My post about the court-ordered destruction of footage of a Landrieu staffer admitting there had been no problem with the Senator’s phones, here.


A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: Screenshots of the Government’s Admission That James O’Keefe Did Not Attempt to Tamper With Landrieu’s Phones

Filed under: ACORN/O'Keefe,General — Patterico @ 12:25 pm

It’s a court document signed by the Assistant U.S. Attorney representing the Government:

O'Keefe Government Admission 1

O'Keefe Government Admission 2

The document can be read in its entirety here.

As I noted in a more detailed post below, the Government sought to bury this admission by omitting it from their press release, and attempting to avoid reading it aloud in court when setting forth the factual basis.

I have updated that post to note that I have now obtained the filed version of the document, with the signature of the Government’s representative.

Now I think it’s time to start asking the U.S. Attorney’s Office why they tried to hide this language from the public.

It’s also time to ask Big Media why they aren’t reporting on this.

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!

Filed under: ACORN/O'Keefe,General — Patterico @ 12:05 am

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.



Brad Friedman: Press Release Confirming Well-Known Fact That O’Keefe Intended to Do Undercover Sting Vindicates Me, Somehow (Alternate Post Title: Brad Friedman Is a Huge Liar)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:21 pm

Over at the blog of fabulist Brad Friedman, we see a post titled: FBI: O’Keefe DID Plan a ‘Wiretap Plot’ to Secretly Record Employees of U.S. Senator:

Remember the disingenuous snit fits that Rightwing con-man Andrew Breitbart and his Tea Bag Boyz were on about when the original reports broke of “a plot to wiretap Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans” by Republican dirty trickster James O’Keefe and his band of co-conspirators?

They were outraged — outraged — that the “liberal media” had included the word “wiretap” in their reports about the felony arrests of the operatives, since the FBI’s arrest affidavit didn’t specifically mention an attempt to wiretap or bug the phones in her office. In a desperate attempt to distract from the actual story and find some way to support their friends’ charged with serious federal felonies, the Tea Bag Boyz demanded that a number of media outlets issue immediate retractions for the claim, and, of course, the “liberal media” outlets complied — as instructed — as usual.

The notion of calling the federal criminals “TeaBuggers” just drove Andy’s boys — particularly the shamelessly pseudonymous wingnut blogger & L.A. County Dep. District Attorney, Patrick “Patterico” Frey — to embarrassingly self-righteous (and inaccurate) distraction!

Friedman’s conclusion: we were all wrong, because O’Keefe really did engage in a “wiretap plot.” His proof? A new “FBI announcement” (actually a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the Eastern District of Louisiana) shows that O’Keefe intended to secretly record Landrieu’s employees in a video sting. You know: like he did at ACORN — which Brad claims violates “wiretap laws” and disingenuously labels “wiretapping.”

This is a fucking lie, and Brad Friedman is a fucking liar. A “wiretap” is defined as “a concealed listening or recording device connected to a communications circuit.” That definition does not apply to a simple undercover video sting — and Brad Friedman knows it.

We all knew O’Keefe intended to do an undercover sting and videotape it. This is not news. Calling that a “wiretap plot” is, in my view, defamatory.

As Larry O’Connor put it: “Who knew @aplusk [Ashton Kutcher] was WIRETAPPING all those people on Punk’d?” Kurt Schlichter identified the problem more directly: “Maybe I’m hypertechnical but doesn’t wiretapping traditionally involve wiretapping?”

No, Kurt, you’re not hypertechnical . . . you’re just honest. Unlike Brad Friedman.

I hope O’Keefe demands a correction. I hope Friedman refuses. And I hope O’Keefe sues him for it.

P.S. That press release has a rather curious and significant omission. Consider that a teaser. Full story in the morning.

P.P.S. Here is Brad tweeting Steve Cooley to try to get me in trouble with my job for calling him a liar.

TheBradBlog @SteveCooley4AG U cool w ur Dep DAs tweeting this 2 constnts/media? RT @Patterico @TheBradBlog that’s a fucking lie & u are a fucking liar.

Intimidation FAIL. Trying to intimidate me at my workplace didn’t work when Jeff Goldstein did it to me from the right, and it won’t work when Brad Friedman does it to me from the left.

My response:

@TheBradBlog I’m pretty sure @SteveCooley4AG is cool with me calling liars like you what they are. But thanks for asking! #intimidationFAIL

I don’t live my life cowering from turds like you, Friedman.

P.P.P.S. As a bit of comedy gold to punctuate the post, allow me to present to you the following caveat at the head of Brad Friedman’s Wikipedia entry:

This article may contain wording that promotes the subject through exaggeration of unnoteworthy facts. Please remove or replace such wording.


You know, I —



*wipes tears from eyes*

You know, I think that would be a good tagline for What do you think?

(H/t @breitbartfan77.)

UPDATE: Friedman responds by claiming that I selectively quoted the definition of “wiretap.” He quotes one definition for the verb (actually, he used it as an attributive noun, but why quibble?) as follows: “To install a concealed listening or recording device or use it to monitor communications.”

Which, of course, also doesn’t apply. O’Keefe neither “installed” the device in Landrieu’s office, nor did he use it to “monitor” communications, but rather simply record conversations taking place in his presence.

Swing and a miss.

Friedman also links to this set of Penal Code sections, which he claims is the “California wiretap act,” to argue that undercover videos are somehow actually wiretaps. (I think it is actually known as the Invasion of Privacy Act, but don’t take my word for it; contrary to Friedman’s suggestions, I am not a wiretap violations prosecutor but a gang murder prosecutor, speaking in my private capacity as I always do on this blog.)

I have looked at these sections and I don’t see where they define what O’Keefe did as “wiretapping.” Indeed, I don’t see the word “wiretap” or any variant thereof in the law. If there is a section that defines in-person covert taping as “wiretapping” then I’d ask Friedman to kindly quote it for me.

In short: what “wire” did he “tap,” Friedman?


James O’Keefe to Plead to Misdemeanor for No Jail Time

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:50 am

I told you this would amount to very little:

It looks like James O’Keefe won’t be in cuffs after all.

The conservative activist filmmaker, who was arrested in New Orleans in January along with three cohorts in the office of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, is expected to enter a plea to a misdemeanor on Wednesday in federal court.  He’s accused of entering federal property under false pretenses.

Originally, O’Keefe faced much more potentially serious charges. At the time of the arrests, the U.S. Attorney’s office claimed O’Keefe and three others were in the process “of committing a felony.” But federal prosecutors never made the supposed “felony” clear, and the lesser misdemeanor plea of entering federal property “under false pretenses” is expected to spare O’Keefe and his co-defendants any jail time.

So much for “Watergate Jr.”

I hear big things are in the works — possibly as early as tomorrow. Stay tuned. You haven’t heard the last of James O’Keefe.

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