Lawyer For Alleged Phone Tamperer: Plan Was To Embarrass Landrieu

January 28, 2010 10:45 a.m.

The attorney for accused phone tamperer Robert Flanagan tells the AP that Flanagan, James O’Keefe, and co. were trying to expose Sen. Mary Landrieu for allegedly ignoring phone calls from health reform foes.

The comments from Attorney Garrison Jordan are partly in line with the theory we outlined earlier — that the alleged plot arose from complaints that Landrieu’s staff were not responding to constituents’ calls.But the AP also reports that Jordan denied the men were trying to either wiretap or disable Landrieu’s phones.

That is potentially at odds with what an unnamed law enforcement official told NBC: that the four men “wanted to see how [Landrieu’s] staff would respond if the phones were inoperative.”

The four are charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony — “maliciously interfering with a telephone system operated and controlled by the United States of America.”

Here’s what the FBI affidavit alleges:

Witness 1 stated that upon entering Senator Landrieu’s office, Flanagan and [Joseph] Basel represented to her that they were repair technicians from the telephone company and were there to fix problems with the telephone system. Witness 1 stated that they were each wearing a white, hard construction hat, a tool belt, a fluorescent vest, and denim pants and tops. Witness 1 further stated that when Flanagan and Basel entered the office, O’KEEFE positioned his cellular phone in his hand so as to record Flanagan and Basel.

Basel requested to be given access to a telephone in the office, and Witness 1 allowed him access to the main telephone at the reception desk. Witness 1 observed Basel take the handset of the phone and manipulate it. Basel also tried to call the phone with a cellular phone in his possession. He stated that he could not get through. Soon thereafter, Flanagan used a cellular phone in his possession to call the phone that Basel held in his hand.

Thereafter, Flanagan and Basel told Witness 1 that they needed to perform repair work on the main telephone system and asked for the location of the telephone closet. Witness 1 directed Flanagan and Basel to the main GSA office, located on the tenth floor of the Hale Boggs Federal Building. Both men went to the GSA office.

Flanagan and Basel spoke with Witness 2, a GSA employee working the GSA office, and represented that they were employees of the telephone company and needed access to the telephone closet to perform repair work.

Late Update: Landrieu blasts Jordan’s “feeble explanation.”

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