Blogging Sen. Stevens Testimony: Part II

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October 20, 2008 10:31 a.m.
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Picking up from where we left off on Friday, Sen. Ted Stevens is back on the stand this morning, in the midst of cross-examination.

The AP reports that Stevens is “dour” and “sparring curtly” with the prosecutor, in what is expected to be the last day of testimony in the historic trial.

We’ll be bringing you more throughout the day, so stayed tuned as we continue our round up.

Trying to fire up the Senator Edition . . . 11:30am: The AP expands their story with some direct quotes from the cross. Perhaps most notably, he’s outright denied that VECO had any involvement at all in the renovation of his house.

Morris pressed Stevens to acknowledge that he knew the foreman and other workers were VECO employees. But Stevens said that’s not how he viewed it.

“He did work for VECO, yes, but when working at my house, he’s working for me,” Stevens said. “VECO was not involved in renovating my house.”

The Politico reports that Stevens is less “combative” than he was on Friday, though the prosecutor keeps trying to bring out the Senator’s famed temper.

Re-Gifting Edition. . . 12:23pm: We wonder what exactly Sen. Ted Stevens thinks he’s on trial for, if it’s not for his failure to disclose things on his financial disclosure forms. Roll Call has the exchange:

[Stevens] argued that there is a distinction between Allen as the personal friend who provided laborers for the house and Allen as the CEO of VECO.

That led Morris to ask, “You don’t have to disclose gifts from a human?”

Stevens replied, “This has nothing to do with disclosure.”

And back when Stevens’ wife, Catherine, was on the stand, she spent a great deal of time lamenting the $250,00 worth of free upgrades that Bill Allen made to the house, especially furniture that he replaced. The prosecution brought the furniture back up, reading from an e-mail that Stevens had sent to Allen, saying that he was planning to re-gift the furniture to his son, The Hill reports. Stevens didn’t respond well to this line of questioning:

Morris questioned why the senator kept that leather furniture set for more than seven years. She pulled out a Sept. 2005 e-mail where Stevens indicated to Allen that he would give the gift to his son.

Stevens grew agitated and tried to dodge the question.

“Just answer her question, sir,” directed Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.

“You are actually trying to re-gift the furniture that is so hideous to your son. Is that correct?” Morris asked.

“No,” Stevens shot back.

There’s no universal meaning of gift Edition . . . 1:07pm: Was it a gift? Was it a loan? In the Stevens’ trial, it all depends on who you talk to.

Stevens talked his way around the fancy massage chair he received from Allen, reported the AP:

He said he considered that chair a loan.

“And the chair is still at your house?” prosecutor Brenda Morris asked.

“Yes,” Stevens said.

“How is that not a gift?”

“He bought that chair as a gift, but I refused it as a gift,” Stevens said. “He put it there and said it was my chair. I told him I would not accept it as a gift. We have lots of things in our house that don’t belong to us.”

Playing to the jury, Morris appeared confused.

“So, if you say it’s not a gift, it’s not a gift?” she said.

“I refused it as a gift,” Stevens replied. “I let him put it in our basement at his request.”

And that was it for the Stevens’ testimony. The defense rested and closing arguments are scheduled for tomorrow.

Food for thought Edition . . . 4:15pm: TPM Reader BK points out that under the Senate Disclosure Rules, claiming something was just “a loan” isn’t much of an excuse:

Uh, someone should remind Senator Stevens that the Senate Rules define the term “gift” to mean “any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance or other item having monetary value.”

Senate Rule 35, Paragraph 2(b)(1).
Or, to put it another way, Senator Stevens just incriminated himself.

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