Blog Archives

Turkey in the Straw

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In the late seventies, during one of those end of the term marathon sessions of congress, then majority leader Senator Byrd invited members of the press to his office for an early morning briefing at the conclusion of which the Senator, wearing a bright red vest, picked up his fiddle and bowed a hot “Turkey in the Straw”.  I wish I could find that sketch.

The above sketch shows Senator Byrd during the Clinton Senate Impeachment trial in 1999.

RIP Senator Byrd

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Sen. Stevens’ Reversal of Fortune

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In a stunning about-face prosecutors in the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens found themselves subject to criminal contempt proceedings.  As he dismissed the indictment against the former Alaska senator, an outraged Judge Emmett Sullivan appointed a non-government lawyer, Janis, Schuelke & Wechsler partner Henry Schuelke III, to prosecute the prosecutors.
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Nightly News aired the story with sketches, but as usual some of the better drawings are never used. Here’s one of Stevens’ defense attorney Brendan Sullivan addressing the Judge at yesterday’s hearing. Ted Stevens is lightly sketched in the left background.

WaPo story here.

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Stevens Prosecutors in Contempt of Court

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An angry Judge Emmett Sullivan yesterday ruled that government lawyers in the prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens were in contempt of court for failing to produce documents relating to witness tampering and willfully concealing evidence.

NYT article here.

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The Verdict

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A Washington jury found Senator Ted Stevens guilty on all seven counts of failing to report gifts. The 84 year-old senator has represented Alaska for 40 years, and is up for re-election next week.
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The senator betrayed little emotion as the verdict was read, but he appeared tired and lowered his head as the jury foreman answered the first of seven “guilty”s.

 

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Closing Arguments

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Lawyers for both sides argued for nearly six hours yesterday to the jury in the trial of Senator Ted Stevens, who is accused of failing to report gifts he received.
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Referring to the massage chair prosecutor Joseph Bottini asked : “Does anyone really believe he thought that chair was a loan?. What were the terms of this loan? Zero percent interest for 84
months?”
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Senator Stevens’ attorney, Brendan Sullivan, told the jurors : “Without sufficient evidence, the government comes here late in the
night of a good man’s life and tries to brand him a criminal.”

After being instructed in the law by the judge the jury began their deliberations, or maybe ordered lunch, at 11:58 today.

AP story here.

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What’s a gift?

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Testimony in the trial of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens concluded today with prosecutor Brenda Morris interrogating the senator about a massage chair given to him by a friend.

Morris: That chair, it’s still in your house?
Stevens: Yes.
Morris: How is that not a gift?
Stevens: He bought that chair as a gift, but I refused it as a gift. He put it there and said it was my chair. I told him I would not accept
it as a gift. We have lots of things in our house that don’t belong to
us.

Morris: So, if you say it’s not a gift, it’s not a gift?

Closing arguments tomorrow. The jury to begin deliberations on Wednesday.

NYT story here.

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“My bottom wasn’t bare, ma’am,”

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Part of Senator Stevens’ defense against the accusation that he did not report expensive improvements to his Alaska “chalet” is that he never received a bill.  Prosecutor Brenda Sullivan, referring to emails in which the senator discussed billing, suggested that the emails were sent just “to cover your bottom?” “My bottom wasn’t bare, ma’am,” the crusty 84 year-old “lion of the Senate” shot back.

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Cross-examination of the senator continues Monday. Closing arguments are expected on Tuesday.

Washington Post story here.

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Fireworks at Stevens Trial

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Expecting a long day of testimony from a single witness and the playing of wiretap tapes, we were taken by surprise when Sen. Stevens’ attorney, Brendan Sullivan, launched into a theatrical explosion of outrage and indignation.  He had reason: the government had not, until the late the previous night, turned over a portion of FBI interview notes where Bill Allen says that had he billed him for the improvements to his home Ted Stevens would have paid.

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An argument between Brendan Sullivan and prosecutor Brenda Morris quickly escalated. “He called me out, Judge,” Ms. Morris protested “I hear a lot of noise coming from Mr. Sullivan.”

Judge Emmet Sullivan turned down the defense’s calls for dismissal or mistrial. The trial resumes on Monday.

Washington Post story here.

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Sen. Stevens’ Boot Camp Buddy

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Bill Allen, the government’s star witness in its case against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, described “boot camp” trips with the senator  to resorts where they would hike and lose weight : “No hard liquor,” he said. “Just some wine.”

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Allen’s testimony resumes today, and the government has indicated that they may wrap up their case as soon as Thursday.

NYT story here.

 

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Jury Selection

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The trial of Ted Stevens began today as the Senator stood and faced a pool of 184 potential jurors.  Opening arguments may begin as early as Wednesday, and a verdict is expected before the November elections.

The Anchorage Daily News story is here.

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