Attorney General: "Magnitude of Errors" in Stevens Case Warrant Release of Independent Investigation

Murkowski Asks Why Taxpayers Bear the $1.8M Burden in Legal Fees Defending Prosecutorial Misconduct, Fighting Investigation Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski today pressed United States Attorney General Eric Holder on whether members of the prosecutorial team in the Ted Stevens trial – accused by an independent court appointed investigative counsel of “significant, widespread and at times intentional misconduct” – is using taxpayer dollars to block public release of the independent counsel’s report.  The prosecution team has spent $1.8 million defending themselves from contempt charges in the Stevens case, most recently in the form of an emergency order by one of the prosecutors to halt the report’s release next Thursday. She also asked about Holder whether he supports the March 15th release of the independent investigative report into the misconduct.

Responding to the Senator’s questioning, the Attorney General said he believes the “magnitude of the errors” by the prosecutors in the case warrants the report’s release, to regain public trust.  “We, the Justice Department, have indicated we do not object to the release of the report,” Holder answered. “I think, given the issues we found there, the magnitude of the case – and frankly, the magnitude of the errors, which led me to dismiss the case – that there is a legitimate public interest in knowing as much as we can.  What happened; why it happened, how the Justice Department responded to these findings of misconduct.”

                                                                                                                                                                          $1.8M a "seemingly" high amount of taxpayer money 


Attorneys still within DOJ don't give me confidence

Holder also acknowledged the prosecutors were allowed to hire private attorneys at public expense in their legal defense and their fight to keep the details from being made public.  He argued that Justice Department attorneys defending them from a Justice Department investigation would present a conflict of interest – and the Justice Department pays their legal fees.

Misconduct in the Stevens trial was not strictly an Alaskan focus in the hearing.  Committee Chairwoman Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) stressed the importance of Murkowski’s questions, saying “This is troubling.  We must have public integrity.” (Footage at end of clip #2) Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) also made it the line of her questioning when she was given the chance to ask Attorney General Holder questions.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson's questioning

Today’s interaction – entire video (7:56) available at http://vimeo.com/38168380 -- took place when Attorney General Holder testified before Senator Murkowski in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Science and Justice.