A federal judge in the false-statement trial of Sen. Ted Stevens said Tuesday he would consider asking the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate whether a lawyer representing the prosecution’s star witness tried to coach his client’s testimony.
“He was nodding his head left to right as if to tell the witness to say ‘no,’ ” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said. “That’s borderline obstruction of justice, or could be.”
The judge said it was during cross-examination Monday that he saw what he perceived to be signaling by attorney Robert Bundy to Bill Allen, a wealthy oil executive and former friend of Mr. Stevens’.
“Maybe he was shaking his head at something else,” Judge Sullivan said. “I don’t know, I doubt that very seriously.”
Mr. Bundy did not appear in court Tuesday, fearing he was unwelcome, according to his law partner, Creighton Magid.
Mr. Magid said Mr. Bundy “vehemently denies signaling Allen and is absolutely torn up [about] this and vehemently denied taking any action.”
Defense attorney Brendan Sullivan told the judge another of Mr. Stevens’ attorneys also believed he saw Mr. Bundy signaling Allen. Mr. Sullivan’s statements drew the ire of prosecutors and Mr. Magid; they agreed he shouldn’t have said that in open court.
Allen finished testifying Tuesday after four days on the witness stand. His testimony seemed at times harmful to Mr. Stevens, sometimes helpful, and occasionally muddled.
Mr. Stevens, 84, is charged with failing to include on financial disclosure forms more than $250,000 worth of gifts and improvements to his home in Girdwood, Alaska.
Prosecutors argue that when Mr. Stevens, Alaska Republican, asked for bills for the work, it was simply a ruse to protect himself from the types of charges he now faces.
But defense attorneys counter that Mr. Stevens wanted to pay every bill and did pay every bill he received.
The Senate’s longest-serving Republican blames well-intentioned but misguided friends for concealing bills from him; the bills escaped his notice, he says, because his wife handled them.