I spent yesterday afternoon watching David Safavian's lawyer cross-examine Neil Volz, a former Hill staffer and Team Abramoff lobbyist who is cooperating with Justice in the Abramoff scandal. Volz appeared to keep what credibility he has largely intact, although Safavian's lawyer did get him to admit that neither he nor his former employer, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), were very good golfers.
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That morning, Volz had given some powerful testimony against Safavian, a White House official accused of lying to investigators about his relationship with Abramoff. Volz said Safavian was a "champion" for Abramoff's interests inside the Administration, who actively sought to help Abramoff and his associates find advantages within the government to benefit their clients.
In her opening statement, Safavian's lawyer Barbara Van Gelder assailed Volz for "climbing out of jail on David Safavian's back," so naturally I was expecting some exciting confrontations during her cross-examination of the guy. In particular, it seemed important to see how Volz -- the first government cooperator to testify in the Abramoff scandal -- would hold up under pressure. If Van Gelder found a way to destroy his credibility, it would make him (and possibly other government cooperators) less useful in future prosecutions, and theoretically make those cases harder for Justice to win.
Van Gelder had over four hours with Volz on the stand. At best, she managed to portray him as a self-interested schmuck who cared more about his own hide (and bank account) than the rule of law -- which, forgive me, isn't hard to do.