The Justice Department on Wednesday asked a federal judge to drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.
A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. However, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.
In a move first reported by NPR, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.
“After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial,” Holder said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
The move comes as the judge was preparing to conduct hearings to probe allegations of prosecutorial misconduct by the team that tried one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress last year. The request, made in a court filing, caps the controversial prosecution of Stevens, who requested an early trial to clear his name but was convicted just days before he lost a reelection bid.
Back to Nina Totenberg’s report:
In addition to Wednesday’s decision to drop the case against Stevens, Holder has also ordered an internal Justice Department review of the prosecutors’ conduct. An adverse decision from the Office of Professional Responsibility would be ruinous for the prosecutors, including the top two career officials in the Public Integrity Section.
Every, single conviction won by the prosecutors in this case is now open to appeal. Every, single prosecution they brought is now suspect.
If they did what Holder appears to confirm that they did, they need to be in court again. This time as defendants.
This looks like a political hit job and some very serious questions need to be answered very soon.