Two items involving U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Jim Letten surfaced today, neither likely having much to do with each other.
First, Letten was finally given the official go-ahead from Attorney General Eric Holder as a reappointed U.S. Attorney. The move, which was telegraphed last week following Holder’s conference with Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, opens the door for a number of Obama administration judicial appointments in Louisiana to sail through after Vitter had blocked their “blue slips” while demanding clarification of Letten’s status.
“This prestigious appointment makes it crystal clear that Jim isn’t going anywhere except on regular trips to Washington to personally advise the attorney general,” said Vitter. “The attorney general and I specifically discussed this in our meeting last Thursday, and I’m really excited it got done.
“Now Jim can continue his vital work, including battling corruption, and I can sign the blue slips this week for the president’s other Louisiana choices.”
Following the reappointment, Letten’s first public act was to back out of the prosecution of conservative activist filmmaker James O’Keefe, whose arrest at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans offices amid an effort to document a refusal to take constituents’ phone calls was something of a sensation last week.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Mann will handle the case.
One Hayride source explained Letten’s pullout as coming from two bases. First, the O’Keefe case is small potatoes for a federal prosecutor with a bevy of well-known skulls on his belt and with the bountiful investigations going on within the ranks of the Jefferson Parish government at present he may be a little busy in the coming weeks.
Secondly, the case is, as the source says, “a dog with fleas.” While O’Keefe might well be guilty of something, the federal charge of entering a federal building under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony – namely that O’Keefe was engaged in trying to bug Landrieu’s phones – is not going to stick. The feds don’t have wiretapping equipment in evidence, because O’Keefe and his gang didn’t bring any. O’Keefe and Robert Flanagan both recorded the entire foray into Landrieu’s offices with cameras, and the government has the video in evidence. The idea that one would record oneself committing a felony in the open is a laughable one.
And because the case is flea-bitten, there is a relatively good possibility the whole matter may be dropped. As Letten is seen as a Republican, having originally been appointed to his position by President George W. Bush, his being the prosecutor on the O’Keefe case is a loser of an idea – if he drops the charges it looks like he’s condoning criminal behavior by Republicans out of political motives and if he tries the case and gets beat it looks like he’s mailing it in. Better to leave it in someone else’s hands and let the air out of the matter.
Regardless of what the ultimate disposition of the case might be, as more information comes to light about it “Louisiana Watergate,” as the state Democrat Party and several left-wing media outlets made it out to be, seems a rather inappropriate moniker.