Stevens has been on the stand for about an hour under questioning from his defense attorney Brendan Sullivan, and the testimony has been designed to show that Stevens' only involvement was making sure he followed Senate rules by requesting payment. Yet at the same time, Stevens has said that it was his wife's responsibility to keep the checkbook for the family. Stevens has told the jury that he rarely made big decisions about the renovations, and he didn't really keep track of the money.
Stevens has been charged with seven counts of failure to properly disclose more than $250,000 in renovations and gifts for his Girdwood, Alaska, A-frame chalet. His testimony began Thursday afternoon, and he is likely the last witness in his trial.
In one e-mail to an engineer working on his house, Stevens wrote in the fall of 2000 when renovations were under way: "I appreciate all the work you have done, ... now I want you to give us a bill for the work. Under our Senate rules, I must pay you for what you have done."
Stevens said he never got a response from the engineer.
Stevens also read out loud a 2002 e-mail to Bill Allen, the Veco Corp. CEO at the center of an Alaska corruption scandal. In that e-mail, Stevens insisted that "you owe me a bill. Remember Toricelli, my friend." Stevens was referring to Sen. Robert Toricelli (D-N.J.), who was under investigation at the time for taking improper gifts. Stevens followed up in an e-mail, saying "it just has to be done right" under Senate rules.
Later in his testimony, Stevens wrote to his neighbor Bob Persons, who was overseeing the renovations, said that Catherine Stevens "is prepared to pay the bills."
Here's the dialog between Stevens and his attorney regarding who was in charge of the bills:
"Who had the check book?" Sullivan asked his client.
"Catherine," Stevens said.
"Who got the bills?"
"Catherine," Stevens responded.
"Catherine maintained the checkbook?"
"She did," Stevens said. "She got all the bills and paid all the bills."
It's not clear how much longer the defense team will question Stevens, but the cross-examination may come this afternoon, and the key thing to watch is how hard the prosecutors decide to go after the senator.