Ted Stevens took the stand. He was reminded by Judge Emmett Sullivan that he didn’t have to take the stand, but Stevens said, it was “an honor and a duty.” Well, it wasn’t a duty (the whole point of not having to do it), but he did it anyway. After extensive questioning by his own defense team, who asked about his life and times, and great moments in his political career, it was the prosecution’s turn.
Ted tried to convince the jury that either:
a) he had no idea what was going on because his wife handles everything “inside the teepee”
b) he knew what was going on, but had no power to stop being gifted against his will
c) Lies, I tell you! It’s all lies!
Baited with rapid-fire challenges to his integrity, honesty and credibility, Stevens mainly answered “yes” or “no” before a jury that will soon be judging him, and keeping to his story that he didn’t believe he received any gifts from the oil-field service company Veco or its chairman, Bill Allen.
Earlier Friday, questioned by his own attorney, Stevens dismissed earlier testimony from Allen that the senator once acknowledged owing the Veco boss money for the work. He called what Allen said in court “an absolute lie.”
By late Friday afternoon, jurors had gotten a taste of the testy 84-year-old senator, who once called himself “the meanest man in town.”
“Aren’t these e-mails really what you’re doing, you’re covering your bottom?” asked Brenda Morris, the lead Justice Department prosecutor on his case, asking Stevens about how he handled a 2004 press inquiry into who paid for his renovations. The question referred back to the most memorable line of the trial, when Allen testified Oct. 1 that Stevens was just “covering his ass” in asking for invoices he had no intention of paying.
“My bottom wasn’t bare,” Stevens snapped back at Morris.
If the jury, like me, was taken off-guard with an unexpected and unwanted mental image of Ted Stevens’ “bottom”, it can’t be good for the senior Senator.
The growing number of odd gifts, with Stevens explanation in parentheses has grown to include a metal staircase (ugly, didn’t want), giant black furniture (ugly, didn’t want, had cigarette burns), a Viking gas grill (fire hazard), and a massage chair (just borrowed it for seven years…wasn’t really a ‘gift’), and Christmas tree lights (didn’t want the fancy rope lights put up, wanted the ones in the garage that he bought second-hand).
Stevens bristled at times during the cross-examination, having to wait for a question before he could reply. Sometimes the judge intervened. Stevens showed his disdain for Morris’ questions by occasionally responding with inquiries of his own.
“I think you better rephrase your question, your question is tautological,” he lectured Morris in response to a question about renovations to his deck.
And for a brief moment, Stevens and Morris traded roles.
Morris said he knew he was getting gifts when he sought a bill.
“If it’s a gift, why did I ask for a bill?” said Stevens, redirecting the question to Morris.
“To cover your butt,” she replied.
“That wasn’t fair, ma’am,” Stevens said.
Dennis Zaki of The Alaska Report who was at the trial, drops tantalizing clues that the testimony and attitude of Catherine Stevens, and Ted himself, didn’t go over well with the jury. Check the Alaska Report later today for Dennis’ update….but he says “Ted’s toast!”