Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is not sitting back quietly after a jury convicted him today on charges of violating Senate ethics rules. In a statement issued tonight, Stevens assailed Justice Department prosecutors and vowed to challenge the felony conviction. "This verdict is the result of the unconscionable manner in which the Justice Department lawyers conducted this trial," Stevens said in the statement.
Stevens, 84, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, said he is "obviously disappointed in the verdict but not surprised given the repeated instances of prosecutorial misconduct in this case."
According to the statement: "The prosecutors had to report themselves to the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility during the trial for ethical violations. Exculpatory evidence was hidden from my lawyers. A witness was kept from us and then sent back to Alaska. The Government lawyers allowed evidence to be introduced that they knew was false."
Earlier today, when the jury found a conflict between the evidence and the seven-count indictment, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed a prosecutor's excuse that the mistake was typographical. During the course of the four-week trial, Judge Sullivan blasted Justice Department prosecutors for a series of mistakes he deemed intentional. The judge brought sanctions against the government that included striking certain records from evidence. Brenda Morris, principal deputy chief of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, has said in court that none of the blunders were intentional.
Stevens, who is seeking his seventh term in the Senate, urged Alaskans to support him. "I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have," Stevens said. The Alaska Democratic Party is calling for Stevens to resign, but Stevens said he remains a candidate for office. Sentencing has been deferred until after February, when Stevens' lawyers will argue for a new trial.