Column: Wife of Sen. Stevens takes the fall at trial

"Catherine Stevens had much to be unhappy about as she took the stand yesterday at the corruption trial of her husband, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.

The stairs that were built for the Stevens chalet, gratis, by a company seeking help from the longtime Republican lawmaker? "I was extremely upset because they were very, very dangerous," she testified.

The huge stainless-steel grill that magically appeared on their deck? "I was very angry," she said. The armchair and ottoman they were given? "I was very unhappy when I saw it." The chairs? "Very upset." The black leather sofa? "Not to my taste." The puppy? "I was very concerned." The bronze fish statue? "It's very big and heavy." The massaging recliner from Brookstone? A "stupid chair."

Now Mrs. Stevens has a couple of more reasons to be unhappy. Her husband's lawyers were happy yesterday to let her take the fall, in part, for the senator's failure to disclose the gifts he received from the pipeline company Veco. And prosecutors, in their cross-examination, portrayed her and her husband as abusers of the senator's official staff.

"Did Barbara Flanders" -- one of the senator's aides -- "walk your dogs?" prosecutor Brenda Morris demanded of Catherine Stevens. "Did Barbara Flanders feed your cats? Did Barbara Flanders pay your Saks Fifth Avenue bills? Didn't staff for your husband cut your grass? Did they pay for your parking tickets? Did Barbara Flanders pay bills to Blockbuster video for overdue amounts? Did she wrap Christmas gifts for your family? Did you send notes to Barbara Flanders to tell her you needed cash? So, in essence, she was your human ATM machine?"

Mrs. Stevens ran her hands through her hair and struggled for answers ("I don't know what you're talking about") but came up mostly empty. And just when it seemed things couldn't get any worse for the Stevens family, Sen. Larry Craig walked into the courtroom after lunch and planted his wide stance in the audience to lend his support to his friend and colleague."

Get the Story:
The Fall Girl (The Washington Post 10/17)
Sen. Stevens Takes Stand, Denies Trying to Hide Gifts (The Washington Post 10/17)
Senator Stevens Testifies About Disclosure Forms (The New York Times 10/17)

Related Stories:
Sen. Inouye backs Sen. Stevens at trial (10/10)
Sen. Stevens loses bid to dismiss corruption case (10/3)
Column: Sen. Stevens says wife controls 'tepee' (09/26)
Alaska Natives on witness list for Sen. Stevens trial (9/23)
Sen. Stevens wins Alaska Republican primary (8/27)
Sen. Stevens loses motion to move trial to Alaska (8/21)
Sen. Stevens wants coruption trial moved to Alaska (8/5)
Column: Uncle Ted Stevens helped Alaska Natives (8/4)
Sen. Stevens set for quick trial on corruption charges (8/1)
More woes for GOP with Sen. Stevens indictment (7/30)
Sen. Ted Stevens indicted on corruption charges (7/29)