James Letten, a former U.S. attorney now working as an assistant dean at Tulane University's law school, bellowed a profanity-filled tirade at conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe when he arrived at Tulane's New Orleans campus.
O'Keefe was visiting to give Letten a copy of his book "Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy," which addresses the criminal case against him for allegedly attempting to tamper with phones at the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. Letten recused himself from the case. Someone in the prosecutor's office, O'Keefe says, leaked what should have been confidential information about him to the press during his initial detention.
Letten was not amused by the campus visit, which occurred after O'Keefe and his colleagues knocked on the door of Letten's home and politely offered his wife the book.
"Listen to me, hobbits," Letten says in a video posted Monday to YouTube. "Pay attention to me, listen to me. You went to my house, you terrorized my wife, you're violating federal law, you're violating state law, you're trespassing, you're a nasty, little cowardly spud. All of you, you're hobbits. You are less than I can ever tell you. You are scum. Do you understand?"
He added: "I didn't prosecute your case a**hole. ... You spend your life as a snail, you do weird little political things, you're a horse's a**, stay away from my family, stay away from me, stay away from my house, stay away from this institution."
Tulane is a private institution, so it is a not public space where filming is allowed without permission. Campus security officers briefly detained the film crew, but no charges were filed.
Letten had nothing more to say about O'Keefe when reached by U.S. News on Monday.
"No, I don't," he said, before repeating a statement made in the video, that he cannot disclose why he recused himself from O'Keefe's case. Despite that assertion, Attorney General Eric Holder managed to loudly proclaim he had recused himself from a criminal leak probe that resulted in the seizure of Associated Press phone records earlier this year. Holder said he himself had been interviewed about the leak.
Letten resigned his position as U.S. attorney in December 2012, one month after his deputy Jan Mann stepped down when it became clear she posted inappropriate information about cases in the online comment section of news publications. Mann assumed control of O'Keefe's case after Letten recused himself.
O'Keefe pleaded guilty in May 2010 to misdemeanor charges for entering Landrieu's office under false pretenses and was sentenced to three years of probation, a $1,500 fine and 100 hours of community service. He was just recently released from probation.
"There are remaining questions about the role Attorney General Eric Holder played in the case," O'Keefe told U.S. News in a short phone conversation. He believes it's possible that Holder pressed Letten to take a heavy-handed approach before he recused himself.
The filmmaker, whose triumphs include dressing as a pimp in 2009 to expose ACORN workers giving advice about underage prostitution, said his team "certainly didn't terrorize anyone" during its attempt to track down Letten.