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Looks like the government has another chance to redeem its bungled prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens.

Judge Emmet Sullivan announced this morning that the prosecution will be able to call one more witness, Dave Anderson, a former VECO employee who worked on Stevens home renovations, the AP reports. The allowance should offset the judge's ruling yesterday that excluded a portion of VECO's records that reference Anderson work on Stevens' home. The judge also ruled he would be instructing the jury that the government knowingly used false evidence in its case.

The decision delays the defense's case, which was set to begin today. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye are expected to testify for the defense.

Late update: Anderson has been a character around Alaska scandal for a while.

According to Anchorage Daily News' coverage of his testimony, Anderson was working "10 hours a day, six days a week," on Stevens' renovations -- and so was contractor Robert Williams. Anderson's testimony compensates for the excluded evidence of VECO records.

Todd Palin spoke to over a dozen state officials, both before and after his wife became governor, in his effort to get state trooper Mike Wooten fired. But he says he never pressured Walt Monegan to remove Wooten.

That's what Todd Palin told independent investigator Steve Branchflower, according to a sworn affidavit released to reporters by the McCain campaign and Palins' lawyer.

In his statement, Todd Palin made clear that he carried a grudge against Wooten, a state trooper who was embroiled in a family dispute with the Palins, during and after a messy divorce from Sarah Palin's sister.

"I had hundreds of conversations and communications about Trooper Wooten over the last several years with my family, with friends, with colleagues, and with just about everyone I could -- including government officials," Palin said.

"I talked about Wooten so much over the years that my wife told me to stop talking about it with her."

But he also said: "My concerns ... were not why Monegan was reassigned," adding that to the best of his knowledge, Monegan, the state's former public safety commissioner, incurred the governor's displeasure because of "budget issues and failure to fill trooper vacancies."

The move by the Palin camp to release the affidavit, in advance of the legislative hearing tomorrow at which Branchflower is scheduled to unveil his finished report, appears to have raised some eyebrows.

State Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican but frequent Palin critic, told ABCNews.com: "The McCain campaign should not be releasing these documents."

The state's Supreme Court is scheduled to rule today on a GOP suit to quash the investigation, after a lower court threw out the effort last week.

The prosecution has rested in the federal corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), just thirteen days and infinite calls for a mistrial later. The last day for the prosecution brought emails from a neighbor of Stevens about the work at Stevens' Girdwood home, an attempt to show that Stevens was more involved with the work than he previously has claimed. But the prosecution didn't go out on a high note. In yet another motion for a mistrial launched by the defense, the judge threw out key evidence from the prosecution, though he did say the trial would continue. (AP)

Washington treated Wall Street to more tongue lashings yesterday with no less a person than President Bush scolding AIG for its $440, 000 spree at the St. Regis resort. (All this through a spokesperson of course.) The insurance firm tried to fend off critics, saying that the binge was long planned and promising to re-evaluate its spending "in light of the new circumstances in which we are all operating." Good thing too, because there was another party planned for independent brokers at the Ritz Carlton next week. Meanwhile, the federal government decided the failing insurance business could use another $37.8 billion. (AP/Bloomberg) Alaska could call in the IRS to see if Sarah Palin owes the state back-taxes on per diem payments she used to cover the cost of commuting from Juneau, the governor's official residence, to Anchorage, where her home town of Wasilla is located. The state sets aside an allowance to reimburse officials for work-related travel, but the rules change if it seems like the person has made their home elsewhere. (Anchorage Daily News)

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The judge in the Ted Stevens trial today threw out two major pieces of evidence, after it was revealed that prosecutors failed to provide the defense with crucial information.

According to Politico:

Judge Sullivan is throwing out a portion of the business records from Veco Corp., whose former CEO, Bill Allen, allegedly spent $188,000 renovating Stevens' home in Girdwood, Alaska. Two former Veco employees, Rocky Williams and Dave Anderson, are on the company's records as having spent significant time working on Stevens' home in late 2000 and early 2001.

But prosecutors never presented testimony from Williams, who was suppose to be the foreman on the home project, and instead shepherded him out of Washington right before the trial started, all without informing Stevens' attorneys.

And Anderson told the grand jury that he was in Portland, Ore., not Alaska, in late 2000, when Veco's records have him as working on Stevens' home. Prosecutors knew that Anderson had told the grand jury that and did not tell the defense team.

So Judge Sullivan excluded the portion of Veco's records that reference Anderson and Williams' work on Stevens' home, and he will instruct the jury that the government knowingly used false evidence in its case.
And:
Judge Sullivan will also exclude all evidence from a 1999 car swap between Allen and Stevens in which Stevens got a new Land Rover from Allen in return for a beat-up 1964 Mustang and some cash.

Prosecutors failed to turn over to Stevens' defense team a copy of the check which Allen used to pay for the Land Rover. Defense counsel alleged that they their case had been hurt when they cross-examined Allen over the transaction, which they only did because -- they asserted -- they didn't have Allen's original check.
Tomorrow, Stevens' lawyers are expected to offer a motion for a mistrial, based on prosecutorial misconduct.

Yesterday, we told you about the raid conducted by Nevada state authorities on the Las Vegas office of ACORN.

The office of Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller has been telling reporters that the raid was prompted by complaints by Clark County officials about fraudulent voting forms being submitted by the group, which works to register low-income voters. An affidavit released by the state today described forms being received with the same name, as well as with fraudulent addresses and with personal information that did not match state records.

But the state has still not said how many such forms were submitted. Bob Walsh, a spokesman for the Secretary of State, told TPMmuckraker that the office is working to answer that question.

In a statement released yesterday, ACORN called the raid a "bogus attack" and asserted that it has "BENT OVER BACKWARDS to identify fraud and to encourage the Board of Elections to prosecute fraud."

But we're still puzzled by something: Republicans have a long history of clashing with ACORN, whose mission to register low-income and minority voters serves the cause of Democrats. So it's not clear what, beyond the immediate allegations, prompted Miller, a Democrat, to launch a high-profile raid of a major voter registration organization four weeks before election day.

According to Walsh, Miller, who has a background as a prosecutor, has always made law and order a priority. And ACORN does have a history of being less than fastidious about preventing small-scale fraud by canvassers who are paid per registration form they bring in. So perhaps this is nothing more than a state official being vigilant in upholding the law.

As more facts become clear, we'll keep you posted.

Score one for democracy.

The Montana GOP announced last night that it's backing off its challenge to the legitimacy of thousands of voter registrations filed in predominantly Democratic areas of the state, which we told you about earlier this week.

In a letter to the head of the elections office of Missoula county -- the county with the largest number of challenged voters -- which was released to reporters last night, GOP chair Jacob Eaton wrote that the challenges were made in "good faith" but added:

"As a disabled combat veteran who has fought Al Queada (sic) to defend this country and our democracy and who has voted absentee en route to a war zone, I regret that my actions have been perceived as such."
It had been reported that the list of challenged voters -- which was based on discrepancies between addresses listed on registration forms and those obtained from a U.S. postal service database -- included a member of the Army Reserve about to deploy to Kuwait, and an 86-year old Second World War hero.

A spokesman for the secretary of state's office told The Missoulian that no one has ever complained to the secretary's office of widespread voter fraud based on inaccurate voter addresses.

It looks like John McCain's foreign policy advisers are back in the news -- and not in a good way.

Yesterday, McCain issued a statement urging the Bush administration to enlarge a $6 billion package of military equipment for Taiwan, announced earlier this week. McCain wants submarines and F-16 aircraft added to the package.

But as the Washington Post notes, the lobbying firm run by Randy Scheunemann, McCain's top foreign policy adviser, in June renewed a $200,00 contract to lobby on behalf of Taiwan. And in 2005, Scheunemann had personally signed the original contract between his firm, Orion Strategies, and the Taiwanese government. (Scheunemann took a leave of absence from the firm to work on McCain's campaign.)

The Post reports:

The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether Randy Scheunemann, his foreign policy coordinator, had a role in drafting the statement or if he had recused himself.
But that's not the only potential conflict of interest here. As Think Progress points out, Scheuenemann has also lobbied for Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-16s that make McCain wants to give to Taiwan.

And here's something else worth noting. Another McCain foreign policy adviser, Bruce Jackson, is a former Lockheed vice president.

Jackson is a close Scheunemann ally, who was at Lockheed until 2002, during the period when, according to Senate disclosure forms, Scheuenemann lobbied for the arms contractor. The two men have worked together closely since then on efforts to expand NATO into eastern Europe.

In an interview, Jackson told TPMmuckraker that he has no financial stake in Lockheed, and has not spoken to McCain about the Taiwan arms package. He described his advisory role in the campaign as informal, and focused mostly on human-rights issues.

Still, Scheunemann's and Jackson's ties to Taiwan and Lockheed serve as a reminder of the influence of lobbyist and former corporate executives in McCain's campaign -- and of the ways in which the senator's bellicose foreign policy is often in sync with their interests.

As we told you yesterday, the newest skeletons in Sen. Norm Coleman's political -- and literal -- closet are Nieman Marcus suits supposedly bought for Coleman by a political contributor.

And as we mentioned in a late update, Coleman was confronted by a member of the Minnesota press as he exited a cafe. Well it turns out the kerfuffle was caught on tape.

Take a look:



Late update: This just went up a few minutes ago. It's a pretty baffling press conference. To wit, Coleman's press flak repeats the phrase "the Senator has reported every gift he has ever received," NINE times in just under 4 minutes of questioning. This would have been a totally adequate response if the reporters had been asking him whether Coleman reported the gifts on his financial disclosure forms. . . but they were after something far simpler: Did the Senator ever receive a gift of suits?

You have to watch:

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the release of 17 detainees -- ethnic Uighurs from western China who were captured during fighting in Afghanistan -- being held at Guantanamo Bay. It was the first time a court had ordered the release of any detainees from Guantanamo.

But in a statement released last night, the Department of Justice said that the ruling "presents serious national security and separation of powers concerns" and announced that DOJ is filing an emergency appeal to ensure the men stay behind bars.

The statement also alleged that the men "have admitted to receiving weapons training at camps in Afghanistan." But this summer, a panel of judges found that the evidence on which that conclusion was based came from classified documents that "do not state (or, in most instances, even describe) the sources or rationales for those statements."

It looked a couple weeks ago as if the McCain campaign's effort to shut down Trooper-Gate had largely succeeded.

But not so fast. Steve Branchflower, the independent investigator on the case, will release his report Friday, and, as the Anchorage Daily News notes, he will have heard from almost every key witness -- with the important exception of Governor Palin herself. As a result, says the paper, Branchflower "appears to have the makings of a fairly complete account."

Over the weekend, a judge ruled that seven witnesses, all government employees, must comply with subpoenas to testify. Those witnesses have made plans to answer Branchflower's questions this week, under oath. And it was announced Monday night that Todd Palin will, through his lawyer, provide written answers to questions.

Walt Monegan, the former public safety commissioner whose firing by Governor Palin is at the center of the inquiry, told the ADN that he spent nearly a day answering Branchflower's questions, and also handed over some documents.

A legislative panel will meet at 1pm EST Friday, to receive Branchflower's report. But the GOP effort to resist the probe has one more lifeline. Lawyers for a group of Republican legislators will try at 7pm EST today to convince the state Supreme Court to halt the probe, after a lower court rejected their suit last week. Stay tuned...

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