It the ultimate example of hubris, former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska is claiming vindication in the decision of the Justice Department to drop the case against him. In the meantime, the Alaska GOP is calling for Sen. Mark Begich to step down.
Stevens’ statement that he has been vindicated by this action is positively ludicrous. If the decision to drop the case was made to “protect justice,” it was the Justice Department itself not hte system of justice. By dropping the case, the Department may have been motivated primarily to end the judicial scrutiny of its lawyers and any continued sanctions. Stevens clearly did not receive a fair trial and deserves a new trial. He also deserved to be charged and re-tried on the charges.
For many of us, it was astonishing that after years of allegations of corruption and special dealing by the Stevens family, the Bush Administration indicted him on the narrowest and most technical grounds. However, even if you take away all of the evidence tainted by these allegations, Stevens would still have likely been convicted. The trial seemed to turn not on this evidence or even the testimony of people like Allen, but Stevens’ own testimony. The jury simply did not believe him or his wife on the stand. While it is sometimes necessary for “the criminal to go free because the constable blundered,” this is a case where the prosecutors blundered.
State GOP party chairman, Randy Ruedrich, said that the Begich won because “a few thousand Alaskans thought that Senator Stevens was guilty of seven felonies.” Really, a few thousand? Stevens was widely viewed as virtually walking the halls of the Senate with a credit card machine on his belt for the last couple of decades. Ruedrick wants Begich to step down and Gov. Sarah Palin concurs and has called for a special election.
The demand for a special election is perfectly bizarre, of course. However, it shows again that some Alaskans are still perfectly willing to embrace Stevens and his scandalized family.
For the full story, click here.