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April 1, 2009
Justice For Ted Stevens: Now what about his Senate seat? (Update 2)
In a decision coming five months too late to prevent a potentially hijacked federal election, the Justice Department has decided to drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder claims that the move was based on Stevens' age and the fact that he’s no longer in the Senate. Anyone not smelling a rat needs to have their nose examined.
Would it be overly cynical to believe that Justice is attempting to preempt the forthcoming decision of U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan to grant a new trial amid glaring evidence of FBI and DOJ misconduct? Misconduct which likely affected the course of the Alaskan Senate election? The ramifications here are nothing short of astounding.
Just days before Election Day, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate was convicted of accepting $250,000 worth of home renovations and gifts from an oil executive and other friends and then lying about it. As a result, Stevens lost the seat he had held for seven terms to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) in a squeaker.
Throughout the trial, Stevens had accused federal prosecutors of blatant misconduct, and shortly after losing the election it became clear that his were not your typical “I wuz framed” allegations.
To the contrary, the foulplay of both the DOJ and the FBI has been so stark that Judge Sullivan has continually postponed sentencing. In fact, in February, Sullivan held four senior DOJ prosecutors in contempt of court for failing to comply with his order to turn over 33 documents to Stevens' defense team. All four were immediately replaced by the DOJ.
Special Agent Chad Joy, an FBI whistleblower, confirmed that prosecutors had routinely concealed evidence that would have helped Stevens' defense team. Joy also submitted a complaint containing allegations of misconduct regarding his co-case agent and federal prosecutors, listing twenty-three categories of “intentional specific law enforcement and/or prosecutorial misconduct.”
And that appears to be but the tip of the corrupt iceberg. Allegations also include witness relocation, failure to forward evidence to the FBI, improper investigation revelations and much more.
And get this -- in addition to a new trial, Sullivan is said to be considering defense attorneys’ requests to begin questioning FBI agents and DOJ officials involved in the case.
So am I the only one wondering what really motivated Holder’s decision to withdraw DOJ’s opposition to the defense motion for a new trial and to dismiss the indictment?
Or, if his prosecution is proven to have been purely politically motivated, whether it’s too late for Ted Stevens to challenge last November’s election result?
Clarice Feldman adds:
The Department of Justice can never compensate Senator Stevens or the people of the state of Alaska for what it did in this utterly stupid, clearly corrupt prosecution.
Cornell law professor William Jacobsen says:
In our adversarial criminal justice system both sides play to win. Splitting hairs, procedural gamesmanship and other tactics seemingly absurd to a layperson are fair game. But when it comes to exculpatory evidence, that is evidence which could help the defense, the state is required to provide the evidence to the defense.
From Nina Totenberg's article at NPR:
"The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he's called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the office of public integrity. That's the department's section charged with prosecuting public corruption cases."
The OPI is the office that handled my claim respecting the Libby case prosecution. Do you suppose they messed up on the Stevens' case but were aok on the Libby case? Or do you suppose on both these highly political matters they acted less than professionally.
Respecting my comment that I think it wrong to suggest Stevens did wrong even though the case is being dismissed, there is this from USA Today:
Tom Suhadolnik adds:
Although Steven's had been fighting the conviction the turning point came in December when an FBI agent associated with the case reported misconduct to his superiors in the Justice Department. And by dismissing the indictment the Justice Department is essentially saying it cannot convict the Senator if it plays by the rules.
For years prosecutors have danced along the edge of what is acceptable. The courts and congress have tried to craft rules which help require prosecutors to meet to opposing objectives – that is to win convictions and insure those convictions are just.
In the case of former Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens it appears career Justice Department lawyers did not meet those objectives.
Thomas Lifson adds:
Republicans should be demanding a thorough investigation of prosecutorial abuse and election manipulation.
Rick Moran adds:
Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens will walk after being convicted of 7 counts of lying on a financial disclosure form.
That may be true. But what he was lying about was what should have landed him in jail for a good long while. It seems the senator had a crony in the oil supply business who assisted him to the tune of $250,000 to "improve" his house and property. Don't you wish you had someone who would do something like that for you and your house? They added an entire story to the Stevens manse as well as other goodies that somehow, Stevens "forgot" to include on his financial disclosure form.
Now I don't know about you but when someone gives me a gift worth $250,000, I would be darn sure to remember it.
At any rate, the whole thing is moot at this point because the eager beaver prosecutor is being accused of misconduct. Not that Stevens is innocent of the charges or of taking the gift or of being behind a gazillion earmarks over the years. Stevens is walking away scott free thanks to the incompetence of the prosection:
Marc Sheppard Updates:
Beware airborne swine droppings -- Matthews just defended Stevens on Hardball.
Literally minutes after again admitting that watching Obama gave him a thrill, the MSNBC host referred to the treatment of Stevens as a “miscarriage of justice,” that wrongly cost him his career and admitted that that he “never should have been prosecuted” in the first place.
And for those believing Stevens merely dodged a bullet here, I suggest you reflect on this: Matthews actually referred to the October 2002 note Stevens sent Bill Allen, the former CEO who provided the services in question, in which Stevens reminded Allen to send him a bill. The exculpatory note, which accusations assert the prosecution illegally withheld from the defense team, stated that “Friendship is one thing. Compliance with the ethics rules entirely different.” Matthews also mentioned the fact that Stevens implored Allen to recall the plight of former NJ Sen. Robert Torricelli (D) who was knee-deep in an illegal campaign contributions scandal at the time. “It just has to be done right,” wrote Stevens.
Of course, Hardball guest and former congressman, Harold Ford Jr (D-TN), was on hand to repeat today’s much-repeated Bravo Sierra party-line mantra that the move is “a perfect example of Holder’s integrity,” but Matthews remained focused on the wrong done the man who was robbed of his Senate seat.
I watched expecting an “April Fools” declaration followed by his annoying signature “HA!” to come at any moment. Neither did.
Were it any other host on any other network, I’d chalk it up to a sense of justness. Instead, the rodent stench grows all the more pungent. These malconduct accusations have been around for months, yet only now are Liberals repeating, trusting and acting upon them?
There’s a heavier hammer about to drop here.