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Senators pounce on Holder over report on Ted Stevens prosecution

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
updated 7:17 PM EST, Thu March 8, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 2 Democrats, 2 Republicans jumped on AG for not releasing report on prosecution of senator
  • Report is about the prosecution of the late former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens
  • Report was by the Justice watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility
  • AG said he would support making most of the report public at the appropriate time

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday ran into unexpected bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill over the Justice Department's failure to release its report on the alleged misconduct of the prosecutors who mishandled the prosecution of the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

Two Democrats and two Republicans jumped on Holder for not releasing the report by the Justice watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility.

Holder said the report is essentially complete, and that he would support making most of the report public at the appropriate time, but said he is awaiting a separate report by an outside counsel hired by the federal judge who heard the Stevens trial. That report by independent attorney Henry Schuelke is expected to be released by trial judge Emmet Sullivan as early as March 15, although one of the prosecutors in the case is still fighting making that report public.

Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, and Diane Feinstein, D-California, joined Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, in urging Holder to release the internal Justice report promptly.

Mikulski, who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee where Holder testified on the Justice Department budget, said the report needs to be public. "Regardless of the party in the White House we must have a Justice Department we believe in and the American people believe in," said Mikulski.

Holder told Hutchison he believes five attorneys cited by the report are still employed by the Justice Department, and he would take action if necessary after the reports are released. A sixth attorney under investigation has since committed suicide.

The lawyers were investigated for mishandling critical evidence in the case.

Stevens was convicted of failing to disclose a gift from a contractor friend on required campaign financial forms while seeking re-election in 2008. He narrowly lost. He was killed months later in a private plane crash while on a fishing trip in Alaska.

Feinstein called it a tragedy that Stevens died before he knew that he was convicted by a faulty prosecution.

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