Not surprisingly, Mr. Stevens is doing a Snoopy Happy Dance proclaiming that, “I always knew that there would be a day when the cloud that surrounded me would be removed. That day has finally come.”
As the Washington Post said in an editorial on its website tonight, Stevens will go free because of the misconduct of prosecutors, not because he was innocent. They went on to say:
This extraordinary reversal cannot erase or forgive the ugly behavior that gave rise to the indictment in the first place. Trial records and testimony painted a picture of a man so consumed with his own sense of entitlement that he did not think twice about accepting such expensive freebies as a Viking gas grill, a vibrating Shiatsu massage lounger and a five-foot sculpture of migrating salmon — not to mention extensive plumbing, electrical and carpentry work on his “chalet” in Girdwood, Alaska. All told, the government calculated that Mr. Stevens took gifts worth in excess of $250,000.
While I am grateful that Attorney General Eric Holder did his job — uphold the law — I am disappointed that the Justice Department will not be seeking a new trial.
Yes, a new trial would be expensive and lengthy.
Yes, it would be difficult to obtain an impartial jury in a new trial, given the media attention to the earlier trial and conviction.
Yes, Mr. Stevens lost his reelection bid and yes, perhaps that is punishment enough, especially for an 85-year-old.
But I’m sorry, but in my book, he’s still a crook. He’s just a crook who caught a lucky break and has no contrition, or even recognition of his crimes.