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Kerik Spoiling for a Fight

Bernard Kerik, the disgraced police commissioner and former Rudy Giuliani pal, wants it to be known he's spoiling for a fight if federal prosecutors decide next month to charge him with new crimes. "If the prosecutors in any event make the fateful decision to charge Bernie Kerik, we will fight it in court, and he will win," Kerik's attorney Kenneth Breen said Friday.

While Kerik may be ready for a fight, the specter of court hearings and a public trial wouldn't be welcome news for Giuliani's presidential campaign, which has tried mightily to distance itself from Kerik since he fell from grace back in late 2004. That's when questions of corruption and other wrongdoing surfaced and scuttled Kerik's nomination to be President Bush's homeland security chief.

An indictment and federal prosecution of Kerik would air anew allegations that Kerik accepted gifts from mob figures while serving as corrections chief and police commissioner in Giuliani's New York City mayoral administration. Those proceedings would be playing out just as Giuliani, the current GOP frontrunner, would be trying to convince primary voters he ought to the Republican presidential nominee.

Adding to the awkwardness, Giuliani's good friend, Judge Michael Mukasey, will likely have been confirmed as the U.S. attorney general by the time the charging decision is made next month, meaning Mukasey's Justice Department would be handling the prosecution. Mukasey has consistently recused himself from matters involving Giuliani.

The Washington Post reported this spring that Kerik was told by federal prosecutors that he was a target likely to be indicted by year's end on multiple felonies including tax evasion and possible corruption counts. Those charges would be on top of the ones Kerik pleaded to last year in New York state court, getting probation.

The entire case will come to a head next month. That's because Kerik agreed to extend the statute of limitations on the tax charges until mid-November to give him time to challenge those charges through an arcane tax appeals process.

Breen said he and his client are set to meet with prosecutors in New York and Washington early next month to try to persuade them to drop the case. "The prosecutors have advised me that no charging decisons have been made. We have meetings scheduled with prosecutors from the Department of Justice in New York and Washingon, at which we expect to convince the Department of Justice that there is no case here," the attorney said.

The nervous countdown is already beginning among Giuliani's supporters.

-- John Solomon

By Washington Post Editor  |  October 12, 2007; 1:25 PM ET
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