Deaver Challenges Prosecutor’s Grand Jury Procedures
Former White House aide Michael K. Deaver opened a new front Wednesday in his battle against independent counsel Whitney North Seymour Jr., accusing him of improperly continuing to present witnesses to a grand jury after it indicted Deaver last month on five counts of perjury and making false statements.
The motion objecting to the continued grand jury proceedings was the latest in a series of salvos that Deaver’s attorneys have launched in recent days in attempts to kill some or all of the charges that face Deaver at his trial, scheduled for June 8.
Last week, the lawyers asked District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to dismiss one of the charges against Deaver on the grounds that it was the result of vindictiveness on Seymour’s part. They asked that three other charges be dismissed as outside Seymour’s mandate to investigate criminal wrongdoing by Deaver.
They also served notice that the defense may claim that alcohol problems and prescription drugs played a role in Deaver’s behavior.
Gives Advance Notice
Asked about the alcohol defense, Randall J. Turk, one of Deaver’s attorneys, said he could not comment on it “because it’s filed under seal.” Turk noted that federal courts require the defense to give advance notice to prosecutors when they contemplate using medical witnesses or other forms of expert testimony.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we will use it,” Turk added.
Deaver’s problems with alcohol were openly discussed during his tenure in the White House, where he served as President Reagan’s deputy chief of staff until leaving to form his own lobbying firm, a former White House official confirmed Wednesday.
Seymour’s grand jury indicted Deaver on March 18, charging that on five occasions he had lied to a congressional committee and to the grand jury itself during investigations of whether Deaver’s lobbying after he left the White House in 1985 violated federal conflict-of-interest laws.
Since then, Deaver’s lawyers say, Seymour has continued to call witnesses before the grand jury.
Limits on Jury
Federal criminal rules do not allow prosecutors to use a grand jury’s powers merely to gather additional evidence to bolster their case once an indictment has been handed down. Prosecutors may continue to use the grand jury only if they are considering additional charges or are investigating additional targets.
In recent weeks, sources familiar with the Deaver case have discussed the possibility that Seymour’s investigation may have additional targets. Last year, Seymour requested and won an expansion of his authority to cover “any person or entity who has unlawfully conspired with” Deaver.
Deaver’s lawyers argued last week and again Wednesday that the special three-judge court that governs independent counsels had no power to expand Seymour’s powers. Independent counsels may look only into charges that the Justice Department has referred to the special court, and the special court may not expand that authority, Deaver’s lawyers say.
The motion filed Wednesday asks Judge Jackson to forbid Seymour from using any evidence in Deaver’s trial that was gathered since the indictment. Deaver’s lawyers also asked the judge to conduct a hearing on the matter. A spokesman for Seymour said that the independent counsel would not comment on the motion.