Stevens Becomes Emotional During Testimony

Posted October 17, 2008 at 2:41pm

For the first time during the three weeks of his criminal trial, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) appeared to struggle with his emotions on Thursday as he described his wife’s brief sabbatical from work in late 2000.

Stevens and his wife have both testified that she was overseeing renovations on their Alaska home in late 2000 while she was in between jobs. The government alleges that Stevens accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of free renovations on his home, but the defense contends that the Senator did not know how much the work actually cost because his wife was handling the bills for the project.

Testifying in his own defense this afternoon, Stevens identified a document his staff had prepared for him that was essentially a projection of the household finances if his wife remained unemployed for several months.

Discussing the document, Stevens said that the family would lose several thousand dollars a month for each month that Catherine was not working, but Stevens said he was unconcerned about the money.

“I was happy that she was going to get a chance to be home” and to spend time with their daughter, he said. Fighting back tears, Stevens said that his wife had been traveling a great deal for her job with a foundation, and “she had worked awful hard. … She deserved the rest.”

Stevens’ brief flash of emotion and affection for his wife was a stark contrast to the rest of the trial, during which he has mostly sat expressionless. His wife testified yesterday that she was unhappy with most of the renovation work, and she frequently expressed her displeasure with her husband’s housekeeping and decisions that he made for the home without consulting her.

The two did not appear to make eye contact or talk during her time in court. In e-mails introduced into evidence, they refer to each other by their nicknames: He refers to her as Rosalee, after a character in a country song, and he signs his e-mails “Oscar” in a reference to the character in “The Odd Couple.”