Stevens Corruption Trial Underway
The public corruption trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) is underway, with jury selection scheduled for the rest of the day and opening arguments set for tomorrow.
Stevens, 84, is charged with seven counts of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms to hide more than $250,000 in home renovations and gifts from a now-shuttered Alaska oil services firm. Stevens, who has been in Congress for 40 years, is facing trial at the same time he is running for a seventh Senate term against a strong Democratic challenger, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
The case promises to be highly charged, with as many as 200 witnesses, including several lawmakers, and testimony from a star government witness, Bill Allen, the former oil company chief executive who has testified at two earlier public corruption trials.
This morning, the GOP lawmaker asked U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to allow him to miss some parts of his trial this week so he could attend hearings on the federal government's multi-billion-dollar plan to bail out Wall Street.
"There's only one thing more important in his life than this trial, and that's doing his duty as a senator, particularly in this time of national crisis," said his defense attorney, Brendan V. Sullivan Jr.
The judge agreed, but warned Stevens, "I think it's possible that some jurors may think someone is too busy."
Jury selection continued today, with several jurors dismissed, including a home-based business lobbyist with Republican ties who said he believed he had met Stevens before, a Christian Scientist who had religious objections to sitting in judgment and a juror with family ties to lawyers at Stevens' law firms.
By Derek Kravitz |
September 23, 2008; 5:04 PM ET
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