Testimony ended Monday as the defense rested its case in Sen. Ted Stevens’s corruption trial, apparently back on track after a major snafu by prosecutors led a judge to threaten a mistrial three weeks ago.
Closing arguments were delivered after Sen. Stevens himself was cross-examined, by what must have been a very exasperated prosecutor. The Los Angeles Times describes a very cagey senator who, though expensive items were left at his house by their owners and never retrieved, somehow didn’t count as “gifts:”
Morris asked Stevens about a $2,700 Brookstone massage chair delivered to his home in Washington in 2001. Stevens has taken the position that the chair was a loan from a friend. But he acknowledged on cross-examination that it remains in his home to this day.
“How is that not a gift?” Morris asked.
“We have lots of things in our house that don’t belong to us, ma’am,” Stevens replied.
I’ll bet you do, Senator. It’s going to be tough to convince a jury, I think, that you were never billed for any of them.
Stevens is accused of accepting over $200,000 in gifts, including home renovations, furniture, and sculpture, and failing to report it to Congress’s ethics office as required by federal law.