Senators Press Holder On Probe Of Ted Stevens Trial

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) died 15 months ago. Two-and-a-half-years earlier, the federal corruption case against him was dropped due to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. Now Attorney General Eric Holder says DOJ’s internal investigators are “in the last stages of their examination” of what went wrong in the case and that a multi-hundred page report is on its way.Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pressed Holder during a hearing on Tuesday on why nobody had been held accountable for the misconduct. Prosecutors allegedly withheld evidence from the Stevens defense team.

Three of the so-called “Stevens Six” — William Welch, Brenda Morris and Edward Sullivan — have evidently been cleared by the Justice Department’s internal Office of Public Integrity, while Nicholas Marsh committed suicide last year. NPR reported last year that OPR made no misconduct findings against Welch, a lawyer for Morris said OPR “found absolutely no midsconduct” and Sullivan’s attorney said he was “completely exonerated.” (Marsh was evidently not subject to any specific findings in the report.)

That leaves two Alaska-based federal prosecutors, Joseph Bottini and James Goeke. The names of their attorneys haven’t surfaced publicly, but a lawyer for another prosecutor involved in the probe said he would let the attorneys know TPM was trying to get in touch. Bottini is working on the federal case against Alaska militia leader Schaeffer Cox, who’s been accused of trying to overthrow the government using a 3,500-member militia along with bombs, lasers and “all sorts of nifty stuff.”

OPR — which was described by one former federal prosecutor as a “roach motel” because “cases check in, but they don’t check out” — doesn’t get much love from politicians, federal judges, DOJ’s Inspector General and even OPR’s founder, who called for the office to be abolished. But in response to a question from TPM last December, Holder defended the office’s work. He appointed Robin C. Ashton, a victim of improper politicization during the Bush administration, to head the office last year.

Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that he hoped to “share as much of that as we possibly can given the very public nature of that matter and the very public decision I made to dismiss the case.”

In the video below, Sens. Feinstein, Leahy and Hatch express their anger at how the Stevens case was handled, which Hatch saying he had “never seen a greater injustice to a member of Congress.”