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Holder Defends DOJ Following Stevens Dismissal

By Ed O'Keefe

In his first television interview since taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. defended the integrity and mission of the Justice Department today and said it will continue to prosecute political figures when necessary, despite a federal judge's dismissal of the conviction of former senator Ted Stevens.

"History has shown that the people who work in this department are good lawyers, they're fair lawyers, they follow the rules," Holder told CBS's Katie Couric in an interview, portions of which aired tonight (see above). "We're not going to be timid. People should not take from this episode any indication that we're going to be timid in enforcing the laws going after those that break our laws, especially those who are entrusted with great political positions. That is going to be a focus of this department under me. We're going to go after white collar criminals."

When asked by Couric how he will restore the department's integrity, Holder said, "You lead by example, and what I think I did in the Stevens case, at great pain, was to tell the world this is not the way in which this Justice Department will conduct itself."

The attorney general said he's "obviously troubled by the findings and the statements" made by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in regards to the Stevens case. The judge stated today that he had "never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct in this case" and urged Holder to better train prosecutors about the requirements for turning over evidence to defense lawyers that may help their case, according to The Post's Del Quentin Wilber.

Holder also defended himself against suggestions he had not acted quickly enough on the Stevens controversy: "I don't think anyone can say that, given the fact that in the limited time attorney general I looked at the case, decided that mistakes had been made and made determination that the case had to be dismissed looking at the totality of the circumstances. I've only been attorney general for a little over eight weeks now, I don't think anybody can say that this department has dragged its feet."

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 7, 2009; 8:29 PM ET
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Ted Stevens is pictured with ret. Col. Tom Spellissy, who they together controlled buying billions of dollars in weapons, at We know why they did this to Stevens and Spellissy and we are closing in on the war profiteers. They must and will be exposed

Posted by: jmcguir3 | April 7, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

OK counselor,

You have my interest, but not in a good way:

"We know why they did this to Stevens and Spellissy and we are closing in on the war profiteers. They must and will be exposed"

First, you are known by the company you keep. Referring to Stevens as some sort of personal reference does not get you a lot of points.

Secondly, at the end of my military career, I served as a contracting officer. And I saw the nearly endless line of retired colonels who lined up, new business cards in hand, to "do business" with the government. These guys were, to a man, trying to parlay their contacts and influence on those contacts in the service in to a paycheck. So please excuse me if I am skeptical when you tell me that one got caught up in some kind of influence peddling scheme.

Now, the "they" that you talk about is the bush justice department. Admittedly that gang of clowns jumped straight off the pages of a Franz Kafka novel. And it appears that Mr. Holder did act with prudent dispatch in the case of Stevens.

And Stevens conviction was overturned on a technicality. He is still known as one of the greatest pork barrel politicians in history. And no one disputes the facts in the case of his acceptance and failure to report considerable considerations from persons doing business with the government.

So you have a tough sell. Mr Holder seems to be holding true to his promise to "lead by example." That will be new to most in justice, and it will take some time to smoke out the graduates of Regent Law school and the other ideological nut cases who filtered in to the department during the bush regime. He is going to have to reconstruct that department from the ground up. A good start would be rehiring David Iglesias, recently of the US Atty Office in NM.

But I am sure he will work his way to your case in due time, and then we shall see. Until then, we remain, Semper Fidelis

Posted by: nrringlee | April 8, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Holder can't be taken seriously without a retrial of Stephens, so the DOJ will still be seen as a political tool.

"Department of Justice", it's only their name, it's not what they do.

Posted by: MLuther | April 8, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

For the love of pete! Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps Judge Sullivan is a blowhard and has no qualms about besmirching others' reputations. I happen to know the judge, and yes he is an airbag.

Posted by: shoveit | April 8, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Even if guilty, Stevens' "crimes" pale in comparison to what's really going on around the "beltway"........My thought is that the Justice Dept. subverted the relection of a US Senator. That's the crime here.

Posted by: tonyholst | April 8, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

retrying an 85 year old man who was driven from public office in disgrace would be a huge waste of time and money.

The court of public opinion has found him guilty as charged. Anything more than that would be as unjust as his original, tainted, verdict.

Stevens is old news in more ways than one. The biggest fish on the hook is Bush Torture policies and how to handle the top-eschelon miscreants that promoted them.

Posted by: joecairo | April 8, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

this case was a judicial mess up.
evidence not introduced in the first trial caused the dismissal of the conviction.
we must learn from this.
make your cases "steel-plated" from now on.
specially when it comes to elected officials.

crooked elected officials should resign on top of it too.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 8, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

This end result was engineered by the prosecution. Jack McCoy pulled a stunt very similar to this in an episode of L&O.

Posted by: creamit20 | April 8, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I feel better now, since Holder told us how the department is filled with good, honest lawyers. Guess that means he doesn't have to fill it with more racist, ethically deprived individuals like himself.
I'm not hilding my breath. Holder is a vacuous, leftist incompetent, nothing more.

Posted by: LarryG62 | April 8, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey Counselor McGuire, better check with your client on his opinion of Stevens. I know Tom Spellissy and he would never associate with a guy like Stevens. Stevens doesn't give two cents about soldiers. Stevens probably played a role in your man getting a vacation to Miami! Best of luck to you.

Posted by: SpOps | April 8, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Stevens goes free but Don Seigelman goes back to jail? This administration is starting to look sick and twisted..

Posted by: ralphlopez | April 9, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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