The U.S. attorney handling James O'Keefe's alleged Senate-office infiltration case in New Orleans has rescued himself, his office announced yesterday, without saying why. Jim Letten, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, requested the recusal after consulting with Department of Justice officials in Washington, DC and considering "various relevant factors," his office said. His first assistant U.S. attorney, Jan Mann, will take over the investigation and potential prosecution.
Letten requested the recusal on Jan. 26, according to his office--the day after O'Keefe's arrest.
While the office wouldn't comment on the recusal, or what those "relevant factors" may be, one possible consideration is that one of the defendants, 24 year-old Robert Flanagan, is the son of Letten's counterpart in the Western District of Louisiana--acting U.S. attorney William Flanagan. It is unclear whether Letten and Flanagan have any kind of relationship, and Letten's office wouldn't comment on it.
Spokespeople for the D.C. office of the Department of Justice were not immediately available for comment.
Meanwhile, Andrew Breitbart is claiming a victory of sorts, telling Fox News that O'Keefe was "framed" by the media and the U.S. attorney's office, alleging that O'Keefe sat in jail while the U.S. attorney's office leaked information about the case. Breitbart publishes Big Government, where O'Keefe's ACORN sting videos were posted last year, and he reportedly pays O'Keefe a salary.
A day after the news of O'Keefe's arrest at Landrieu's office,and the FBI affidavit relaying the information about the incident was reported, an unnamed law enforcement official spoke to media suggesting O'Keefe and his associates had not intended to wiretap the office, as was commonly assumed at the time (including by me).
O'Keefe released a statement last week that he had not intended to wiretap Landrieu's office, nor had he intended to cut or shut down her phone lines, an assertion that contradicted the speculation of FBI Special Agent Steven Rayes, who said in his affidavit that he thought there was probable cause to believe O'Keefe and the others intended to interfere with the office phones when they sought access to the telephone closet, claiming they needed to do repair work.