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Stevens Cleared in Alaska?

The news that the Justice Department will drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens likely exonerates the legendary Alaska Republican in the eyes of a public who sent him to defeat just four months ago.

"After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement this morning. "In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial."

Stevens's legal team -- Brendan Sullivan Jr. and Robert Cary of Williams & Connolly -- released an extended statement this morning in which they described the case as a "sad story and warning to everyone" adding that: "Senator Ted Stevens has served his country with distinction in the United States Senate for more than forty years....He did not deserve this prosecution by rogue prosecutors trying to make reputations for themselves."

Stevens and his legal team maintained throughout the trial -- and after his conviction on seven federal counts of filing incorrect financial disclosure statements -- that Justice Department prosecutors withheld information from the defense that would have changed the outcome of the trial.

Even so, there was a widespread belief among even his own Republican colleagues that Stevens's repeated denials of wrongdoing were nothing more than political posturing.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee at the time, called the allegations surrounding Stevens "a sign of the corruption and insider-dealing that has become so pervasive in our nation's capital," and added: "It is clear that Senator Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down."

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain's vice presidential nominee, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) also went on the record to urge Stevens to step aside.

McConnell changed his tune on Stevens dramatically this morning, telling the Post's Paul Kane that "had this decision been made last year, he'd still be in the Senate."

It's hard to argue with McConnell given the closeness of the election that saw Stevens, who had represented Alaska in the Senate for four decades, defeated by then Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

In spite of the fact that Stevens's conviction, which was issued on Oct. 27 -- just one week from election day -- dominated the state and national coverage of the race, Begich bested Stevens by less than 3,000 votes out of nearly 290,000 cast.

"I always said I didn't think Senator Stevens should serve time in jail and hopefully this decision ensures that is the case," said Begich this morning. "It's time for Senator Stevens, his family and Alaskans to move on and put this behind us."

For Stevens, however, the court decision (now reversed) ended a long and storied political career. At 85, it's hard to imagine him mounting any sort of political comeback particularly with Republicans controlling the two statewide offices up for election in 2010.

What then ultimately will be the political impact of this reversal? For a state as broadly distrustful as the federal government as Alaska, the Stevens trial will only serve to affirm their lack of faith in the federal government.

That sentiment could well bolster Rep. Don Young (R) who, like Stevens, has come under an ethical cloud for his involvement with an Alaska energy company but, unlike Stevens, was able to weather the political storm and win re-election last fall. Young will almost certainly cast himself as the victim of an over-eager Justice Department in his next election, a charge that will have significantly more sticking power in light of the Stevens ruling today.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 1, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  House , Senate  
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Comments

Stevens is 85 years old and served in the senate for 31 years. Someone wanted him to retire. He refused so they retired him the hard way. Now they cleared his name. End of story.

Posted by: seemstome | April 2, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Two weeks before the Stevens decision it took a Federal jury just two hours to bring to a close a 4 year investigation and trial of former Puerto Rico Governor Acevedo. They found him not guilty of 16 Federal counts. One would hope that the Congress, Attorney General and the media would hold the Federal prosecutors to the same standards and investigate their actions in the same manner in Puerto Rico as they do in Washington DC.

Posted by: dahlia1 | April 2, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Stevens was not cleared of anything. The prosecution under Mukassey's Department of Justice...Bush's Department of Justice...screwed up the case so badly that it can't be won in appeal. Might have been intentional or not - doesn't matter now - but Stevens wasn't cleared of s*h*i*t.

Posted by: bobcra | April 1, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Alaska should redo the senate election now that....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Posted by: castanea | April 1, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Alaska should redo the senate election now that Stevens has been cleared. The election was dramatically effected due to the circumstances.

Posted by: Philipe | April 1, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

It is always sad to see justice derailed by incompetence or intentional malfeasance. Ted Stevens deserves to be in jail for his crimes against this country. The Bush Justice Department failed to bring him to justice like they did so many other things.

Posted by: fletc3her | April 1, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

castanea wrote:

"I can't wait for Hannity, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly to engage in political contortions as they try to find a way to blame the Democrats for all this."

==

Thilly wabbit, they'll just lie, just like the GOP trolls here. How far do you think the GOP and their supporters would get telling the truth?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | April 1, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Is this thing working? What happens if I push this butto

Posted by: Miss_Hogynist | April 1, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

This is not a lesson in the evils of left or right wing ideology. It's a lesson in the evils of advocacy justice (your lawyerly performance is measured by how zealously you prosecute your cases) on behalf of a government that is simply too powerful.

The senator in question enjoyed more power than a human will can enjoy and remain upright, and his prosecutors suffered the same ailment.

Unfortunately, I see no remedy. Human history is by and large a very dark story interrupted by inexplicable, brief, all too occasional moments of decency.

Though there may be no remedy, there is a salve - humor. Unfortunately, I'm all out of it tonight.

Posted by: Miss_Hogynist | April 1, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

So the case got tossed for procedural violations, he's still a crook, everyone knows it.


Posted by: JRM2 | April 1, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

"Funny how Democrats, Great Defenders of Democracy, don't really care if hate, false accusations, and herd-mentality cost the other party a seat in the Senate."

***

Ah, the loons have already started their call. A Republican DoJ gets a conviction against a corrupt Republican, a Democratic AG tosses out the conviction because the Republican DoJ botched it, and yet still it is the fault of the Democrats.

Face it. You guys screwed up against a fellow Republican because you were inept and, well, just plain stupid. Don't try to wipe your stink off on us, sweetheart.

Posted by: castanea | April 1, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Funny how Democrats, Great Defenders of Democracy, don't really care if hate, false accusations, and herd-mentality cost the other party a seat in the Senate.

You can be sure that Democrats would be out full-force to 'restore the integrity of the voting process' and hold a special election to get Stevens his seat back if he were a Democrat....

Posted by: dbw1 | April 1, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

"Why can't you rightwingnuts EVER admit someone on your side screwed something up?"

Because the rightwing exists on a myth of its own infallibility. They cannot admit that they are wrong, ever.

That's why the loons post the same responses over and over again, regardless of the topic. Obama's poll numbers are fading! Obama is a Kenyan marxist!

All failings of the Bush years were due to Democrats undercover in the administration, or liberals in the media, or socialists who snuck into Iraq before the US invasion and carried all the WMDs, one by one, across the border.

Posted by: castanea | April 1, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

So the attorney general appointed by a Democratic president has chosen to dismiss an indictment against a then-sitting Republican senator, who was convicted last year after being prosecuted by a Republican Department of Justice?

And Republicans McCain, McConnell, and Palin all urged Stevens to step down?

I can't wait for Hannity, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly to engage in political contortions as they try to find a way to blame the Democrats for all this.

Posted by: castanea | April 1, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

OK, all you beltway esqs, what's the real story here? This seems like a career limiting case, even if one did work for the Gonzalez DOJ.

Posted by: boscobobb | April 1, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Brendan "I am not a potted plant" Sullivan was Oliver North's lawyer, too.

Posted by: mattintx | April 1, 2009 11:42 AM


Geez, I had forgotten about Mr. Sullivan's involvement with Ollie North...

Posted by: TJO73 | April 1, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Chris, why didn't you mention that it was a Republican Justice Dept. that went after him, and a Democratic AG that let him go. Given other posts I feel quite certain that if it had been a Dem Justice dept. that screwed up, you would have ripped them a new one, and rightly so. How do we know that the GOP justice dept. didn't screw up on purpose, so that Stevens could have grounds for appeal? The Dem. AG was tested, and he passed the test, he didn't allow politics to colour justice.

Posted by: katem1 | April 1, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

He should now be eligible for appointment by the Obama administration...pending a review of his IRS status.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 1, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

This is not an exhoneration.

The prosecutors need to be disbarred.

Posted by: vigor | April 1, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox8:

Good questions.

Posted by: JakeD | April 1, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

As I recall, Gov. Palin stuck with Stevens until the bitter end -- once there's an actual conviction, like it or not, he was forced out -- unfortunately, there is no office Stevens can go to get his reputation (and Senate seat) back.

Posted by: JakeD | April 1, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1: no zouk and scrivener do not deserve our compassion or pity, they deserve to be scorned and shunned and marginalized as the despicable and contemptible troublemakers they are. This unwashed nasty-grimy underclass has done enough damage to our country and to every forum they show up in.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | April 1, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

When a poor criminal defendant, who is clearly guilty, is released on a "technicality" it is a call to rewrite rules on procedure. When the same thing happens to a politician it is a sign of his innocence? A Republican administration pursued these charges. A Democratic administration found poor conduct and dismissed them. What is the lesson here?

As for the voters in Alaska, they know their Republican party is corrupt. It was not just Ted. No one is going to suddenly think he was not guilty. He just got off.

Posted by: caribis | April 1, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Why does only one post show up when there are several dozen here?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | April 1, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this what the GOP deserves for spending eight years stuffing DoJ to the gills with all those Liberty University grads?

Posted by: hiberniantears | April 1, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I see zmancolumbia is as unemployed as zouk -- or maybe he's just another one of zouk's 10,000 names.

Posted by: drindl | April 1, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

What matters is that Stevens is out of office and out of power. He won't be advocating oil drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and he won't be plotting revenge against critics in the Senate who didn't toe the line. Stevens is a complete slimeball whose ending in disgrace is richly earned.

Note too that there is little doubt he accepted gifts and bribes, this is a quibble over the prosecutorial conduct, not a repudiation of Stevens' indictment.

Good riddance.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | April 1, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse


"Why do the zouk kook and the scrivener microwave nut have to post the same crap in every single comments section?"

this is the only life they have. it's sad.

Posted by: drindl | April 1, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Ok what about that DEM LA Congressman found with 75K in his freezer. Charley Rangel saying he did not know he had to pay 45K in taxes on his luxury rental property overseas and HE IS IN CHARGE OF OVERSIGHT OF THE IRS...come on folks they are all corrupt.

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

chrisfox8 asks
"Why do [zouk] and [scrivener] have to post the same crap in every single comments section?"


Obsessive-compulsive disorder. While they are tiresome and annoying, they deserve our compassion and tolerance.

.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 1, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Well all the tax cheats in Obama's cabinet were given a pass after saying they were sorry. I am glad he is being cleared...

Posted by: zmancolombia | April 1, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

A smooth criminal skates.

Posted by: whocares666 | April 1, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I must admit, I made fun of Steven's whining "Prosecutorial Misconduct!".

Hard to tell what the truth is these days...I wonder why none of the media (including conservative outlets) picked up on this before now?

Posted by: mikem1 | April 1, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

it's too bad Justice made some errors. It still seems pretty obvious that Uncle Ted was trading on his power to get goodies for himself. The whole system is corrupt. As other people have been noting, Don Siegleman is still in jail as a result of his overzealous prosecution. Is Eric Holder going to let him off the hook now?

Posted by: fedssocr | April 1, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The real story should not be Senator Stevens but the endemic abuses by prosecutors at all levels of U. S. courts who trample on justice while attempting instead to advance their own careers. I doubt the attorney general's implicit warning to prosecutors today will change that.

Posted by: texlonghorn_98 | April 1, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Zogby still conducts polls? Man, I'd be embarrassed to still remain in that line of work. I've never seen such an incompetent pollster. Internet polls??? That's like a doctor trying to cure his patients with a taser simply because its fast and modern. Doesn't matter that its got nothing to do with medicine.

Posted by: DDAWD | April 1, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Prosecutorial misconduct should be dealt with harshly. So should Stevens' misconduct, which under investigation still cannot be explained away as permissable or ethical in any way, shape or form.

Stevens is still about as ethically challenged as they come. At a minimum.

Posted by: HillRat | April 1, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"a sad story and warning to everyone" ...that even a CROOK can be exonerated.

Posted by: JRM2 | April 1, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"Who in the Justice department is to balme for this - was it partisan (yes there can be democratic partisanship even if the preseident is republican, DOJ is a large organziation staffed by many career people who may be ardet democrats)
So this is what the democrats resort to so they can cram unpopular and radical legislation down our necks, to raise taxes even though teh norm in the new cabinet seems to be not to pay them properly (who did not have issues? mostly Clinton because she had to be squaky clean given Bill's being a former president and her political ambitions)
Unbelievable"

I agree with bsimon. Your post is pathetic. There is ZERO evidence of any Democratic partisanship in this case. Why can't you rightwingnuts EVER admit someone on your side screwed something up? Man up for a change, loser.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | April 1, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Why do the zouk kook and the scrivener microwave nut have to post the same crap in every single comments section?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | April 1, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

What matters is that this vindictive slimeball is no longer in office, no longer advocating oil drilling in a wildlife refuge, no longer plotting revenge against his principled critics in the Senate.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | April 1, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

tj: yep, it's called a loophole and American lawyers have gotten so very good and finding them, at all costs, and at all expense.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 1, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

McCain-"It is clear that Senator Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down."

it is clear that evidence was withheld from the first trial and that the trust in the judicial system has been broken and the case should be withdrawn.

Thanks Senator

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 1, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Folks, before we start saying that former Sen. Stevens is totally innocent--please review--nobody associated with the case (with the exception of the former senator, his family, and legal team) is saying that Sen. Stevens didn't do what he was alleged to have done; rather, that prosecutorial misconduct will probably not allow for a fair and impartial trial. I deplore what the prosecutors (Dubya appointees?) did and didn't do in this case. But that does NOT mean the former Senator is innocent of all charges!! Unfortunately, we will most likely never find out the real truth.

Posted by: TJO73 | April 1, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

cttaxpayer writes
"Unbelievable"

What is unbelievable is the set of contortions through which you put yourself in order to assign partisan blame. If you can do that physically, you have a promising Cirque de Soleil career ahead.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 1, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

It was a mistake, zukebot, to make him your messiah in the first place. No wonder you're upset. Poor ting.

Posted by: mattintx | April 1, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

So, the balance of power in the senate was significantly affected by an improper prosecution of a sitting senator - there is no doubt he would have retained his seat without it, he barely lost as it is
Who in the Justice department is to balme for this - was it partisan (yes there can be democratic partisanship even if the preseident is republican, DOJ is a large organziation staffed by many career people who may be ardet democrats)
So this is what the democrats resort to so they can cram unpopular and radical legislation down our necks, to raise taxes even though teh norm in the new cabinet seems to be not to pay them properly (who did not have issues? mostly Clinton because she had to be squaky clean given Bill's being a former president and her political ambitions)
Unbelievable

Posted by: CTTaxpayer | April 1, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

OK, so he didn't kill anyone and he's 150 years old so let's not put the guy in jail but he is STILL A CROOK and everybody knows it.

Posted by: JRM2 | April 1, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Reminds me of the famous "Doonesbury" cartoon after the outcome of the Daniel Ellsberg "Pentagon Papers" mistrial: the judge with his head down on his desk, haranguing the feds' Prosecution team, "You had it in the bag! You had it in the bag!" Prosecutorial misconduct has lost many a case--and brought down overzeal District Attorneys like North Carolina's Mike Nifong.

Do we think the Bush administration's obviously politicized and clearly incompetent Justice Department did this deliberately??

Posted by: commonsense101 | April 1, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Still waiting for the criminal complaints against Wrangle, Frank, dodd, Pelosi, Reid, Moran, Moynihan, Hastings, Etc.

You remember the culture of corruption? It is now simply being overlooked by congress and hidden by the press.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 1, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

URGENT TO:

ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER, Asst. Atty. Gen. Tom Perez (DOJ staff please forward)


Ted Stevens gets justice.


Now, how about justice for the millions of INNOCENT BUT TARGETED?...


...the millions of Americans who continue to be victimized by the Bush-Cheney legacy EXTRAJUDICIAL PUNISHMENT NETWORK...


...a travesty of justice that continues under Team Obama?


http://www.nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/domestic-torture-radiation-weaponry-americas-horrific-shame

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):


http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 1, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The justice dept is starting to smell fishier and fishier. What is going on with them? No prosecutions for any of the bush cabal and now this.

Posted by: tmcproductions2004 | April 1, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

""In his most recent survey, the pollster said that "49 percent rate his job performance as excellent or good, and 50 percent as fair or poor (less than 1 percent were not sure). That is a dip of 3 points from the previous poll," Zogby said last week. ""

Oh dear, messiah sinking like a rock. I guess at some point empty promises and teleprompter speeches are unfullfilling and leave the viewer wanting.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | April 1, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

BFD. He's still a scumbag, just like OJ is still a murderer.

Blame the Bush Justice Dept. for bungling this slam dunk case. Guess they are "libs" too, eh zook?

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | April 1, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Brendan "I am not a potted plant" Sullivan was Oliver North's lawyer, too.

Posted by: mattintx | April 1, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

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