Excerpts of Jan Mann’s testimony regarding what she told U.S. Attorney Jim Letten

Excerpts from Jan Mann’s Nov. 15 testimony to attorneys from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, quoted in Judge Engelhardt’s order:

Mann said she reminded U.S. Attorney Jim Letten obliquely on several occasions that she was an online commenter:

A. He [Letten] asked me no more questions, but we did discuss it a couple of times. He’d say, you know, “These cowardly commenters.” And I’d say, “Well, I’m not a coward,” you know, things like that. “I’m not” — “you know, I’m not a coward. That’s not why people do it anonymously,” you know. So I would make references to it, maybe, you know, less than a handful of times.

Q. When did those occur?

A. Between March and November, you know. He’d say, “God, those commenters, they’re just nothing but graffiti.” And I’d say, “I have nothing against graffiti.” You know, things like that like — meaning, obviously, I’m a commenter, you know.

Q. Well, were they specific statements to Mr. Letten reminding —

A. Yeah.

Q. — him that you had been a poster?

A. I never said, like, “Let me remind you, I’m one of those posters.” But when he would say, “I just think they’re cowards, people who use anonymity are cowards”; and I’d say, “So you think I’m a coward?” Things like that. I didn’t say, “Remember, I told you I’m a commentator.” But I just accepted that he remembered.

The attorneys asked whether Mann thought Letten would report her conduct:

Q. On — back just a little bit, on March 13th, you had a couple of conversations that you said about — to Mr. Letten concerning your postings?

A. Yes. Yes.

Q. Did you and Mr. Letten have any discussion about whether they should be — your postings should be reported up the chain?

A. No.

Q. Did you ask him that question?

A. No.

Q. Did you ask him whether he thought, like, it should be reported to OPR?

A. No.

Q. Did he make any comments to you?

A. No. We didn’t discuss that. I probably thought in my mind he probably did say something, but he didn’t tell me any — again, I know how he is. He didn’t want to — he wasn’t — he didn’t want to — me to have done anything wrong, you know. Not that I think he’d cover for me, because I don’t think he’d cover for anybody. But I just thought, you know, he’s not going to put it back up in my face.

Mann said she thought that the Justice Department had purposely limited its inquiry into online commentary:

Q. Well, wasn’t there a concern that other people in the office were doing the same type of — whether there was a concerted activity or not, the damage is very much the same if there’s a bunch of independent activity.

A. We weren’t going to investigate that. If somebody thought — I — I thought people in Washington decided not to ask that. When your survey came out and you didn’t say, have you ever commented, I thought, they decided they’re not going to cross that line. I don’t know why you didn’t ask that. I thought you were going to ask it in the survey. I really did. I said, my jig is going to be up. I’m going to have to tell her [OPR counsel].

Q. There was a long time between March 13th and the survey.

A. And the survey, yeah, August.

Q. During any of that time, did you consider that you should be telling people, besides Mr. Letten?

A. No. No. I — I thought DOJ had made a concerted decision, decided, that we can’t ask all our employees about this because they have a right to do this. So then what are you going to say? Well, only thing we can ask you, if you did it in your personal capacity, but did you ever comment about cases? What, are they going to get on everybody’s computer and search? I mean, at what point are they going to stop? I said, they mustn’t want to do that. They must realize that may be just going too far.

Mann also said she thought other people in the U.S. Attorney’s Office were engaging in online commentary:

A. I kept telling him [USA Letten], “You know there’s going to be other bloggers probably. There’s going to be other commenters in the office.” ... Now that I realize that I did it, Sal did it, are we the only two? Probably not. Probably in every U.S. Attorney’s Office there’s a handful of people commenting. ... So I said, “Jim, we can’t ever say he’s the only one.” So that’s why everything was crafted the way it was. ... They — everybody is saying that you all were all doing this as a team, like making it an official strategy. That’s what we were defending against. That’s what we were saying to Washington. This is not part of any official work of the office to have a propaganda campaign or something like that.