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Murkowski Defends Stevens

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) decried federal prosecutors Monday night and vowed to stand by fellow Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) if he appeals a federal conviction handed down earlier in the day.

“Given today’s verdict, it’s a sad day indeed for Sen. Stevens and his family as well as for Alaska,” Murkowski said in a statement. “Ted Stevens is an honorable, hard-working Alaskan who has served our state well for as long as we have been a state. It was clear that the prosecution blundered in several instances. Given these gaffes, which raised the ire of U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan on several occasions, Sen. Stevens has announced that he will appeal the verdict. I look forward to having justice served.”

A 12-member jury convicted Stevens on seven counts of filing false statements to conceal the receipt of more than $250,000 in gifts — primarily in the form of renovations to his Girdwood, Alaska, home — over an eight-year period.

He said in a statement Monday he plans to appeal.

“Ted has asked for Alaskans and his Senate colleagues to stand with him as he pursues his legal rights. He stood with Alaskans for 40 years, and I plan to continue to stand with him,” Murkowski added.

Meantime, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) issued a statement saying that while “a personal tragedy,” the events are an “important reminder that no man is above the law.”

“Senator Stevens must now respect the outcome of the judicial process and the dignity of the United States Senate,” Reid said.

Republican leaders also started weighing in on the news of Stevens’ conviction Monday night. Unlike Murkowski, however, they didn’t try to defend their longtime colleague. “This is a sad but serious day,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said. “Sen. Stevens was found guilty by a jury of his peers, and now must face the consequences of those actions. As a result of his conviction, Sen. Stevens will be held accountable so the public trust can be restored.”

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