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Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements as part of a deal in which he will cooperate with an influence peddling investigation, the Justice Department said.

So he will cooperate. More soon.

TPM Reader DM:

pretty much everyone who pleads guilty does so as part of some sort of deal, so i wonder, what were the terms of the deal? more broadly, assuming there was a deal, i wonder what motivated the prosecutors to offer ney a deal.

prosecutors offer plea deals for any number of reasons – resources, strength of their case, etc. the conventional wisdom is that bribery is notoriously difficult to prove. so maybe the prosecutors gave ney a deal because they didn’t want to roll the dice at trial. but the state does have four cooperating witnesses as well as pretty compelling circumstantial evidence.

which leads me to wonder. do you think prosecutors gave ney a deal for other reasons? in particular, is it possible ney is cooperating as well? if so, who might be the target?

Again, to see what prosecutors had in their arsenal, here's our primer on Ney.

The Justice Department has announced that Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher will be making a statement on a "public corruption case" at 10:30 AM. Justin's headed down to attend. More soon.

So Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) -- once known to Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team as "our friend," now known to federal prosecutors as "Legislator #1" -- is finally pleading guilty this morning, according to news accounts.

We'll be all over the event and its repercussions like CNN on a blonde's disappearance. But first -- a look back, to our favorite moments with Bob Ney:

July 28, 2006: When federal prosecutors subpoena one of his aides, Ney suggests they're trying to throw his upcoming election. "[D]on’t you find it unusual that after 17 months that the Justice Department all of the sudden, 120 days before the election, subpoenas a staffer. They could have called him within the last 17 months. I’ll leave it right at that. I find it very unusual.” (Ney has since dropped out of the race.)

June 9, 2006: Ney angrily emails a reporter for his story about a junket Ney improperly reported. "Let me tell you paul-last week you did not call us for comment ‘you were under deadline.' . . . Print the same story-change it to reprint the same story-people in new philly – d’s and r’s call it ‘elk’s politics.’ . . . Please-please-print this paul-you don’t care about ohio-i am sick of your crap. You are a d c person who couldn’t find ohio unless we gave you a map. You don’t give two shoots about our people."

April 20, 2006: Ney spokesman Brian Walsh told us, "Frankly, it's an unfortunate commentary on the justice system that someone has to spend a lot of money simply to clear their name. . . . in what is in this case completely false allegations." (Walsh has retained his own counsel in the matter; he resigned from Ney's office in June.)

May 8, 2006: Again, Walsh: "[T]he congressman is more confident than ever that he will be vindicated in this matter. . . . the congressman will not under any circumstances plead guilty to a crime he did not commit" -- in retrospect, a rather clever denial -- "Congressman Ney has said from day one that he has done absolutely nothing illegal, improper or unethical."

Jan. 15, 2006: Facing a growing scandal and pressure from GOP leadership, Ney resigns his chairmanship of the House Administration Committee. "I want to assure my colleagues and my constituents that I have done absolutely nothing wrong and I am convinced that I will be vindicated completely at the end of this difficult process," he says defiantly.

"[O]nce these false allegations have been put to rest, and I have the full confidence that they will be, I look forward to resuming the chair for the rest of my appointed term and continuing the important work of the committee," Ney declared that day. Alas, his spot on that panel appears to be gone forever. But he'll always be the chairman of a small place in our hearts.

Bob -- Thanks for the memories.

Ney Expected to Plead Guilty Today " Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, has agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges related to his dealings with the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, lawyers and others with knowledge of the investigation said Thursday.

A guilty plea would make Ney, a six-term congressman, the first member of Congress to confess to criminal charges in the Abramoff investigation, which has focused on the actions of several current and former Republican lawmakers who had been close to the former lobbyist." (NY Times News Service)

Read More →

The Washington Post confirms that the Pentagon general counsel spent several hours "cajoling" top military lawyers into weakening their opposition to a White House-backed detainee treatment proposal -- and at least one senator wants to hold a hearing on the incident:

[T]he [Judge Advocates General's] letter was signed only after an extraordinary round of negotiations Wednesday between the judge advocates and William J. Haynes II, the Defense Department's general counsel, according to Republican opponents of Bush's proposal. The military lawyers refused to sign a letter of endorsement. But after hours of cajoling, they assented to write that they "do not object," according to three Senate GOP sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were divulging private negotiations.

[Sen. Lindsey] Graham [R-SC], a former Air Force judge advocate general, promised to summon the lawyers to a committee hearing and to ask for an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the letter.

Comments by Sen. John Warner (R-VA) this afternoon fuel speculation over whether and how the Bush administration pressured JAGs to reverse position on torture, on the eve of a crucial vote -- and what his panel intends to do about it.

The Armed Services Committee chairman made the statements after his panel passed his bill to constrain the detention, interrogation and prosecution of terror suspects in U.S. custody, a blow to the White House's agenda. Emphasis added:

QUESTION: A lot of what you put together is based on testimony by and large from the JAG.


QUESTION: A letter was sent, though, that would seem to be counter to your position.

WARNER: On its face, that is true, but there are further aspects to that letter that the committee needs to explore, and we will do so.

QUESTION: Can you clarify what you mean by that...

WARNER: Beg your pardon?

QUESTION: Can you clarify what you mean by that; "further aspects of the letter that you want to explore"?

WARNER: No. It's just that a senator has information that needs to be brought to the attention of the committee as it reviews the letter from the JAG.

QUESTION: What is that information?

WARNER: Beg your pardon?

QUESTION: What is that information?

WARNER: Until I get it, I can't explain it.

More signs that Bob Perry's 527 venture is a force to be dealt with this election.

The Economic Freedom Fund (EFF) is behind robo calls in at least four states; that's in addition to heavy TV ad buys and mailers (more than $500,000 worth) that the group is funding in Iowa, Georgia, and West Virginia.

In Indiana, the group's calls attacked Baron Hill, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-IN). You can listen to an audio of the call here (courtesy of Taking Down Words), as captured by an Indiana man who makes it a practice to record calls from telemarketers. Indiana law bans automated phone calls, and Indiana's Attorney General says he'll investigate the case.

The caller begins by identifying himself as from "Data Research" with a "45 second public survey," and then launches in to a number of leading questions. At one point, the robo voice inquires, "Baron Hill voted to allow the sale of a broad range of violent and sexually explicit material to minors. Does knowing this make you less likely for Baron Hill?"

It's not clear which vote the robo voice is referring to, but Hill spokeswoman Abby Curran said that "Baron Hill does not support allowing the sale of such materials to minors, nor has he ever supported this."

The caller ended with "this survey was conducted by the Economic Freedom Fund."

It's a classic "push poll," a dirty campaign trick used to smear an opponent, not collect data. Notably, the caller fails to collect basic polling data about the subject (such as age and party affiliation) before launching into its questions.

Read More →

From The Cleveland Plain Dealer's blog:

Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney has agreed with the Justice Department to plead guilty to at least one criminal charge in a deal that could be announced as early as Friday, Capitol Hill sources said Thursday....

Capitol Hill sources close to Ney said the plea agreement was ready to be publicized on Thursday, but an announcement was delayed to avoid influencing a special election in Ney’s congressional district.

Stay tuned....

Update: For those of you who need reminding as to what Ney might be pleading guilty, here's a reminder.

Late Update: The AP reports:

The Republican officials said they were not certain whether Ney intended to admit guilt to more than one charge, or precisely what offense would be involved in any plea agreement. They said a prison sentence was not out of the question.

Two officials said Ney would admit to having filed a false disclosure report with the House of Representatives in connection with a 2002 golfing trip to Scotland that Abramoff paid for.

Yup, that trip to Scotland. The one that wasn't a junket.

More details emerge about the allegations that the White House pressured top military lawyers to drop their opposition to its favored torture legislation.

It's believed that William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon counsel who wrote the department's infamous 2002 policies endorsing physical and mental duress during interrogation of terror detainees, was the man who applied pressure to top JAGs of the four branches to sign away their disagreements in letters to key senators.

"Jim Haynes, who's the counsel at the Pentagon, convened this meeting and got these guys to write this letter and something they told people they didn't agree with," an unidentified reporter told White House spokesman Tony Snow in this afternoon's briefing.

"It's not the case," Snow replied. "They were asked to write a letter that reflected their views and they edited and signed the letter."

According to one Hill source, the allegation that Haynes pressured the JAGs came up in the Senate Armed Services Committee meeting today, with at least one senator suggesting a hearing devoted to the incident.

Haynes has a bad history with the JAGs -- and with the Senate.

Read More →