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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/09/stevens-ted-wife-crths.jpg caption="Former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and his wife Catherine outside the federal courthouse on Tuesday in Washington, DC"]
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Former Senator Ted Stevens has filed the paperwork necessary to lay the groundwork for another senatorial bid. It seems the disgraced octogenarian wants to return to the Senate in 2014.
And why not? Sure, he was convicted of seven counts of making false statements and various other ethics violations; but the indictment underlying his convictions was withdrawn last week by new Attorney General Eric Holder who was deeply troubled by the prosecutorial misconduct in the case.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/07/ted.stevens/art.ted.stevens.gi.jpg caption="Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and his wife, Catherine, arrive Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Washington."]
A federal judge Tuesday set aside the conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.
He also initiated criminal contempt proceedings against the government lawyers who prosecuted Stevens. He appointed an independent, nongovernment attorney to investigate the matter.
"Until recently, my faith in the criminal justice system was unwavering. But what some members of this prosecution team did nearly destroyed my faith. Their conduct has consequences they must know can never be reversed," Stevens said in a statement read to the court.
"But today ... my faith has been restored ... [I have] new hope that others may be spared from similar miscarriages of justice."
Stevens added that he would "encourage the enactment of legislation to reform laws relating to the responsibilities and duties of those entrusted with the solemn task of enforcing federal criminal laws."
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In Session Anchor
Former Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted in federal court on seven counts of making false statements and various ethics violations. But now, the indictment underlying that conviction has been withdrawn. Why? Because the prosecution cheated.
The federal prosecutors on Stevens’ case continually cheated — throughout the trial — to the point that they were held in contempt. The judge, Emmet G. Sullivan was outraged. He actually said on the record that he was “flabbergasted.”
Enter, the new Attorney General, Eric Holder. Holder, it just so happens, started his career in the public integrity section at the Justice Department. He had watched the trial. He was angry — very angry — at these prosecutors – six of whom have resigned.
So let this be a warning to prosecutors across the agency. You cannot hide evidence. You cannot lie to the court. The job of a prosecutor is not to win at all costs. The job of a prosecutor, especially at the Department, is to seek Justice. And that’s the last word.
After covering the long investigations and dramatic trial, it's pretty amazing that the government is now withdrawing charges against convicted Senator Ted Stevens. You just have to wonder what it's like for the people on all sides of this horrible case. On one side there is Sen. Ted Stevens—the grouchy Alaska Senator everybody in Washington loved to hate. On the other side–the federal prosecutors trying to bag the biggest fish the Justice department had reeled in in years.
Stevens had been convicted on seven counts of lying on Senate ethics forms, after prosecutors accused him of failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars of "freebies" from an oilfield services company. In December, however, an unnamed FBI whistle-blower accused prosecutors of withholding evidence from the defense, and now the Justice Department has asked a judge to dismiss the charges.
So Stevens' name is cleared, his lawyer says, but amid the accusations he lost his bid for a 7th term. And some prosecutors are probably looking at a bunch of trouble going forward. We’ll eventually find out whether mistakes made in the prosecution were bungling or intentional. About the only thing you can say right now is that this is a story with a moral: “Watch how you use the power of the government – because someone is always watching. And the truth has a way of getting out."
Now that Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to drop the case, a lot of people in Washington are probably looking over their shoulders - and maybe that’s not such a bad thing sometimes.
I covered Joe DiGenova when he was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. The same job, by the way, that Eric Holder held before becoming attorney general. Here's what DiGenova has to say.
Former Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska has been "cleared" by the Justice Department's request to dismiss his federal corruption convictions and drop all charges against him, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Former Sen. Ted Stevens, 85, of Alaska lost his re-election bid in November.
Prosecutors accused Stevens of failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars of "freebies" from an oilfield services company on Senate ethics forms. But in December, an unnamed FBI whistle-blower accused prosecutors of withholding evidence from the defense, and the Justice Department asked a judge to dismiss the charges against Stevens on Wednesday.
"His name is cleared," Stevens' lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, told reporters. "He is innocent of the charges, as if they'd never been brought."
Stevens, 85, lost his bid for a seventh full term in November after his conviction on seven counts of lying on Senate ethics forms. Sullivan said the Justice Department was forced to request the dismissal because of "extraordinary evidence of government corruption."
"Not only did the government fail to provide evidence to the defense that the law requires them to provide, but they created false testimony that they gave us and actually presented false testimony in the courtroom," he said.
And one of Stevens' longtime friends, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, said Wednesday that Stevens was "screwed by our own Justice Department."
In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Stevens thanked the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder for requesting that the charges be dropped.
"I always knew that there would be a day when the cloud that surrounded me would be removed," Stevens said. "That day has finally come."
Yesterday Gary Tuchman blogged about his quest to get the first television interview with Senator Ted Stevens since his felony convictions. Here is the video from that meeting and Gary's report on Senator Ted Stevens' campaign.
Wondering how Sen. Ted Stevens is doing in his reelection bid? Track the election results for his senate race here.
Gary Tuchman | BIO
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/03/art.stevens.jpg caption="Sen. Ted Stevens campaigning in Alaska."]
Senator Ted Stevens has never been known as a big fan of the news media. So we knew getting him to talk to us on camera following seven felony guilty verdicts against him would be a bit challenging. He hadn't done a TV interview since the verdicts. Ultimately, he did do an interview with us. But making that happen took us on an unusual journey.
On Sunday, we went to interview his Democratic opponent in the Senate race, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. The mayor was at a candidate forum in the entry way of a large Baptist church that was full of candidate posters, pamphlets, and balloons. As we were getting ready to greet Begich, we saw to our surprise that Senator Stevens was also shaking hands about 30 feet away from his opponent.
I came up to the 40-year Senate veteran, introduced myself, and asked him on camera if he was angry about the guilty verdicts. He told me "not that angry. I'm angry at you guys 'cause I'm trying to visit with friends; I just see them once or twice a year." I then mentioned because he was campaigning we wanted to see if he would talk, and he objected since we were doing this in a church. I mentioned to him that there was some lively campaigning going on in this entry way, but that didn't seem to matter to him.
Gary Tuchman approaching Sen. Ted Stevens in the Baptist church.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/28/stevens.verdict/art.stevens.courthouse.gi.jpg caption ="Sen. Ted Stevens leaves the federal courthouse in Washington after being convicted Monday." ]
John McCain and Sarah Palin on Tuesday called on Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to resign, a day after the veteran Alaska lawmaker was convicted on federal corruption charges.
Other Republican senators followed suit, as did Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president.
"Stevens has broken his trust with the people and ... he should now step down," McCain said in a statement issued by his campaign Tuesday morning.
Palin said the time had come "for him to step aside."
"Even if elected on Tuesday, Sen. Stevens should step aside to allow a special election to give Alaskans a real choice of who will serve them in Congress," Palin said in a written statement.
Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, insists he is innocent and will continue to run for a seventh full term as he fights his conviction in court.
He was convicted Monday on seven counts of failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts and free work on his home in Alaska.