Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii defended the honor of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens at the Alaska senator's corruption trial Thursday, saying he's never heard of his friend lying.
“His reputation for truthfulness and honesty is what, sir?” defense attorney Brendan Sullivan asked.
“Absolute,” Inouye answered emphatically.
Stevens, 84, is accused of lying on Senate forms to conceal more than $250,000 in renovations on his cabin and other gifts from Bill Allen, his close friend and former chief of a major Alaska oil services and construction company, VECO.
Inouye, who said he's so close to Stevens and his family that the Alaska senator's daughter calls him “Uncle Dan,” told prosecutors that he's “never heard of him lying under oath.”
Stevens, the longest-serving Senate Republican and patriarch of Alaska politics for generations, has languished in the federal courtroom as a Democratic opponent back home mounts a strong challenge to the seat he's held for 40 years.
The GOP icon's lawyers started their defense by calling his friends and constituents to testify to the senator's reputation of honesty. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to testify today.
Inouye is one of Stevens' best friends, with the two World War II veterans calling each other “brother.” The two have traveled the world together and are the top two senators on the panel controlling the Pentagon budget. They are also the chairman and top Republican, respectively, on the influential Senate Commerce Committee.
Stevens has temporarily stepped down from those positions while on trial. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison on each of seven charges, though under federal sentencing guidelines, he probably would receive much less prison time, if any.