As Paul Kiel notes here, the prosecution in the Brent Wilkes case (the key — oh fine, alleged — briber of Duke Cunningham) has just rested their case. So just what defense is Wilkes, or rather his celeb lawyer, Mark Geragos, going to put on?
We’ve been mulling this question both because we’re interested in the case and because we’re considering sending star TPMmuckraker reporter Kiel to San Diego to report from the court room on Wilkes’ effort to wriggle out from under his rather obvious guilt.
So here are a few factors to consider.
First, this may be the only trial to come out of the case. Duke and Mitch Wade both pleaded out. Wilkes goes into the trial with a ton of evidence pointing to his guilt. He’s not a particularly sympathetic defendant. And his defense is quite bold. His lawyers will essentially argue that he’s not guilty of bribery but rather an innovative form of self-interested advocacy called “transactional lobbying.”
No, I’m actually not kidding.
How Wilkes plans to skate on these charges is really beyond me, for the reasons I note. And since he’s the only one not to cooperate you really have to figure that the government is going to crucify him at sentencing.
But there’s one more card Wilkes might be able to play. Remember, fellow scammer Bill Lowery and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) are still out there under investigation. (Possibly the bad acts Wilkes knows the detailed info about are too far in the past, but I doubt it.) Wilkes probably wouldn’t have much difficulty serving those guys up. So maybe he figures he can have his cake and eat it too — take a shot at a wildly-improbable acquittal and then still rat out his fellow scamlings after conviction.
Anyway, all food for thought.