Blogging Sen. Stevens Testimony

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October 17, 2008 12:05 pm
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Sen. Ted Stevens took the stand yesterday, along with his wife Catherine, to testify in his trial on seven counts of false statements.

He continues that testimony today, so we’ll be bringing you context on relevant facts, quotes and happenings from what looks like it will be the final day of this historic trial of a sitting senator.

Morning testimony. . .12:01: One might call Uncle Ted a “traditionalist” after reading this quote on the power dynamic in his household.

From RollCall:

Ted Stevens testified that when Catherine agreed to take charge of the project, “I was happy about that” because she is generally much more concerned than he is about the maintenance and decoration of their homes.

“What goes on in the house is Catherine’s business; what goes on outside is my business,” he said.

Politico says Stevens read the jury an e-mail he sent to the man who produced architectural drawings for the renovation project in August 2000.

“Now I want you to give us a bill for your work,” Stevens wrote to John Hess — a VECO employee and one of the first witnesses for the defense, but never received a bill. “Under our Senate rules, I must pay you for what you have done,” he added.

Direct continues . . .12:44 pm : Well the Stevens’ defense has made it pretty clear — their primary defense is throwing Mrs. Stevens under the bus:

“Who had the check book?” Sullivan asked his client.

“Catherine,” Stevens said.

“Who got the bills?”

“Catherine,” Stevens responded.

“Catherine maintained the checkbook?”

“She did,” Stevens said. “She got all the bills and paid all the bills.”

As you can see from the focus of the defense questions, they’re looking to defend the senator on two fronts: 1) that he tried to pay his bills, even asking for them from the architect while citing Senate rules; and 2) that he didn’t even know what was going on in the house anyway! That was women’s work!

No Free Lunch Edition . . . 1:13 pm: This just in from the AP, Stevens wouldn’t even let his buddies pick up the tab on lunch! Let alone hundreds of thousands in home renovations.

“I pay my bills wherever I am,” Stevens said. “I don’t let people buy my lunch or buy my dinner. Wherever I am, I pay my bills.”

Sadly, Stevens also turned on the testimony of former VECO CEO Bill Allen — who was one of his best friends until he decided to testify against Ted.

Stevens blames Allen, his one-time friend and drinking buddy, for adding freebies to the project without telling him. Stevens sat stonefaced Friday as he accused Allen of lying on the witness stand. Allen testified that Stevens knew he wasn’t getting billed for everything and just wanted invoices to protect himself.

“That’s just an absolute lie,” Stevens said. “I heard it. It’s an absolute lie.”

Flashback to Catherine’s testimony Edition . . .1:43pm: TPM Reader ML points out an interesting moment in Catherine’s testimony yesterday:

Morris also questioned Mrs. Stevens about her husband’s Senate staff walking their dogs, paying their credit card bills, cutting their grass and doing other personal work for her family.

Sometimes,” said Mrs. Stevens, who added that if they did, the staffers were paid. [emphasis ours.]

Hmmm . . . who does that remind you of?

Cross examination is coming Edition. . . 3:13pm: Roll Call is reporting that direct questioning will be wrapping up this afternoon and cross examination will probably start before they recess for the weekend. Disappointing that this won’t be wrapped up by the end of the day.

Crocodile Tears Edition. . . 5:13pm : Apparently, even though Sen. Stevens and his attorneys haven’t hesitated to sacrifice Catherine Stevens to the DOJ wolves, the seven-term senator still gets misty-eyed over her, Roll Call reports.

“I was happy that she was going to get a chance to be home” and to spend time with their daughter, Stevens said, referring to his wife’s decision to leave work and its impact on their household finances. Fighting back tears, Stevens said that his wife had been traveling a great deal for her job with a foundation, and “she had worked awful hard. … She deserved the rest.”

Politico has some great color on the senators’ cross examination, in which the prosecutor sharply questions Stevens’ ignorance and passivity when it came to the home renovations.

“You were a lion of the Senate but you didn’t know how to prevent another man from putting items in your house?” Morris asked.

“You’re making a lot of assumptions that are unwarranted. There are no gifts there, ma’am,” Stevens said.

Stevens is known for his temper and has even embraced that reputation, wearing Incredible Hulk ties on the Senate floor when he knows he has a tough debate ahead. He’s not wearing any Hulk garb today.

Stevens, a former U.S. attorney before he served 35+ years in the Senate, got a little testy as questioning continued, deigning to offer his expertise.

“I think you better rephrase your question,” he told Morris as she continued her questioning. “That question is tautological.”

Things broke up around 4:45 pm. We’ll be back on Monday bringing you the best in reporting on the final days of the Stevens’ trial.

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