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The Realpolitik of the Stevens Dismissal

George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley, the preeminent voice on corruption in Alaska politics, thinks that Attorney General Eric Holder moved to dismiss the Stevens cases to avoid further scrutiny of the DOJ's handling of the prosecution:

The decision of Attorney General Eric Holder to drop the case was portrayed as an act of self-discipline by the Justice Department. However, it also served to try to shutdown any further sanctions and investigation by the court. The Court was already moving to take the same actions and it was clear that, if the case remained in court, further sanctions and investigations were on the way. The Justice Department appears to have let Stevens walk in the hopes that it would be able to stop further sanctions against itself and continued embarrassment. It did not work. Judge Sullivan was not buying it. After all, the Justice Department did everything that it could to stop this inquiry and only had this moral awakening on the eve of another hearing and expected sanctions.

Read the rest here.  Turley makes a great point.  Why dismiss the case "in the interest of justice" right when a federal judge was about to dismiss the same justice?  It's sort of like saying, "You can't fire me.  I quit!" 

Scott Greenfeld, meanwhile, notes that Judge Emmet Sullivan may have lost his patience with DOJ altogether:

But [a sanction in another federal case is a] start.  Had it just been Ted Stevens, I would be reluctant to gush about Judge Emmet Sullivan's statements and actions.  Stevens was just too easy to fall into the isolated incident category.  But with Judge Sullivan's words and deeds in the Batarfi case, I believe he means business.  Given the nature of the federal judiciary, this is quite a brazen act of bravery.

The timing and psychology of Judge Sullivan's actions are interesting.  Judge Sullivan knew about the prosecutorial misconduct in the Stevens case while the case was pending.  He refused to dismiss the case.  Why? 

Judge Sullivan gave the prosecutors the benefit of the doubt.  He wanted to believe that the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice had some integrity.  There is a deep need to believe that our power structures have some justice to them.  DOJ went too far.  They could have stopped their lies and probably have never turned Judge Sullivan off to them.  They kept telling more lies.  Judge Sullivan finally realized that the mistakes were not good-faith errors or incompetence.  He realized that everything he had ever been told was a lie.

The Public Integrity Section mugged Judge Sullivan.  Judge Sullivan will always watch his back when dealing with the United States Department of Justice - which is as it should have always been.