Remember, there were two charges initially. One, a misdemeanor, was entering federal property under false pretenses, which they were clearly guilty of (two of them were posing as telephone repairmen). The other was the big one — “willfully and maliciously interfering” with the office phone system, a felony punishable by ten in the pen. The question was whether they were in the building to mess with the phones, be it through wiretapping or some other form of manipulation, or merely to see if the phones had been disabled by Landrieu’s staff to avoid taking angry calls from constituents over O-Care. The former would constitute interference; the latter, arguably, would not.
No word on why the feds decided as they did, but the felony charge is now up in smoke.
The new charges are contained in a bill of information, which can only be filed with a defendant’s consent and typically signals a plea deal. The new filing charges videographer the four with entering a federal building under false pretenses, a misdemeanor. They had been arrested Jan. 25 on felony charges…
J. Garrison Jordan, a lawyer for another defendant, Robert Flanagan, said his client has “an agreement worked out with the government” but wouldn’t elaborate or confirm that the others also have reached a deal with prosecutors.
“I think it’s a fair resolution to the charges, and I’m happy with the agreement we’ve worked out,” he said…
Federal authorities initially accused the four of trying to tamper with Landrieu’s phones, but the new filing merely says they planned to pretend to test the phone system.
The misdemeanor could mean six months in prison and a $5,000 fine but I’ll be shocked if they get anything beyond than community service. Commenters are wondering in the Headlines thread when Edward R. Murrow’s rightful heir will apologize for calling this a new Watergate or ace reporter David Shuster will walk back his tweets to O’Keefe right after the story first broke in January that “a) you are not a journalist b) the truth is you intended to tap her phones c) it’s a felony d) you will go to prison.” (0 for 4!) Answer: Shuster already did, sort of, but I wouldn’t look for any more remorse than that from MSNBC. The new storyline, guaranteed, will be that O’Keefe got a break because one of the kids in his crew is the son of the acting U.S. Attorney for Western Louisiana. Never mind that there have already been recusals in the case to avoid any conflict of interest; the “corrupt wingnut” narrative shall not be denied. Long live “Watergate Jr.”!