Wednesday, September 26, 2007

House moves to quash subpoenas in defense contractor's trial

SAN DIEGO - Attorneys for the House of Representatives asked a federal judge Wednesday to quash subpoenas for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Republican Whip Roy Blunt and 10 other members of Congress in the trial of a defense contractor charged with bribing jailed former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

The subpoenas were sent by attorneys for Brent Wilkes, whose trial begins Tuesday on charges that he paid Cunningham $700,000 in exchange for government contracts. The contractor has pleaded not guilty to 25 counts of bribery, fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

Cunningham, an eight-term Republican from San Diego, is serving eight years and four months in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2005 to accepting $2.4 million in cash, fancy cars and other gifts from Wilkes and other contractors.

House lawyers argued that the information sought by Wilkes' attorneys is constitutionally protected.

Wilkes' attorneys want details of targeted spending items, known as "earmarks," that Cunningham requested for Wilkes and any evidence of bribes offered or paid to Cunningham or other members of Congress by Wilkes and others.

Wilkes' attorneys also asked for internal investigative documents and correspondence from the House Intelligence Committee and a subcommittee that handles defense appropriations.

According to court documents filed by the House general counsel, Wilkes attorney Mark Geragos refused to specify what questions he would ask lawmakers on the witness stand on grounds that it would compromise the right to a fair trial.

Geragos did not immediately respond to phone messages Wednesday.......

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