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Will Bush Pardon Stevens?

It looks like Sen. Ted Stevens, convicted of seven federal felony counts of bribery-related charges, has opened the door to asking for a presidential pardon, according to Politico:

Asked Nov. 18 if [Stevens] would seek a pardon from President George W. Bush, Stevens told reporters at the Capitol, “No, no, no.” But later that day, he explained just as emphatically that all those no’s had really meant “no comment.”

I hadn’t heard that Stevens retracted his “No, no, no” statement, which is different than the non-answer version, “no comment.” It could mean he’s actually thinking it over.

Politico also points out that Stevens’ lawyers sent a letter to the Justice Department claiming prosecutor misconduct, which could translate well into a request for a pardon.

Still, Stevens hasn’t officially asked for a pardon and he has vehemently maintained his innocence. If he does, it’s hard to say how he’d fare for sure, but it looks pretty unlikely.

In his final lame duck days, President Bush has pardoned 14 people and commuted the sentences of another two. That’s the stingiest in recent history presidential history. As I wrote last week, none of the pardoned were Bush loyalists or well-connected Republicans. The most interesting of those pardoned is Leslie O. Collier, convicted of shooting two bald eagles. A grass-roots campaign persuaded Bush to pardon Collier, not ties to the GOP.

But if Stevens gets lucky and his record is cleared, would he run again? Democratic rival Sen. Mark Begich will be up for re-election in 2014, a few weeks before Stevens’ 91st birthday.

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