It was a line that caused government prosecutor Brenda Morris to pause. Morris was grilling Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens about the expensive massage chair in his D.C. home. A Stevens friend bought the chair as a gift. Stevens accepted it as a loan. Six years later, he has not returned it.
“We have lots of stuff in our house that doesn’t belong to us, ma’am,” Stevens told Morris in court today during cross-examination. “Really?” Morris asked. Stevens is accused of accepting more than $250,000 in gifts and home renovations and not reporting the items on Senate financial disclosure forms.
Morris asked Stevens to rattle off the other things in his home that he does not own. He mentioned stuff his daughter owns and then said his wife Catherine, a Mayer Brown partner in D.C., would be better to answer the question. Stevens has testified that his wife was the bill-payer and home decorator. Catherine Stevens testified last week. “Catherine paid the bills and that’s all there is to it.,” Stevens said today.
Stevens vowed he did not ask for anything and the stuff he got—tools, artwork, and a dog, among other things—were not gifts. “If you say it’s not a gift, it’s not a gift?” asked Morris, principal deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. Stevens said he asked a friend to install a small generator at the Stevens home in Alaska before New Year’s Eve in 1999 in case Y2K fears came true. Stevens ended up with a giant, expensive generator. “I requested a generator,” Stevens testified, “not that generator.” Stevens recalled telling his friend to remove the generator. He didn’t.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has dedicated Tuesday to closing arguments—giving each side three hours to argue the case to jurors. Judge Sullivan will give jury instructions Wednesday. But the judge has not ruled on whether to grant a defense motion for judgment of acquittal. And there’s a Williams & Connolly motion to dismiss the indictment pending. The lawyers argue government prosecutors presented false evidence to the grand jurors that indicted Stevens. Prosecutors call the allegation baseless.
For more on today’s action in the Stevens trial go to LegalTimes.com.