Dana Milbank on the Bill Jefferson trial



Part of the reason that Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank is so often frustrating is that his ego-driven antics too often conceal real talent; in other words, when the man's on, he's damn good -- as he is today in his wrap of the Bill Jefferson trial:

As defense attorney for the congressman who stashed the bribe money in his freezer, Robert Trout had an unenviable task. So in his closing arguments Wednesday, Trout adopted a different client: He acted as if all of Washington were on trial.

"We all occupy the gray area -- it's just part of human nature," Trout explained, as if former congressman William Jefferson's proposal to bribe the vice president of Nigeria were an everyday occurrence.

"We're going to make mistakes . . . we may do reckless things," the lawyer continued, as if having $90,000 of the FBI's money in Pillsbury pie crusts in the Louisiana Democrat's house was tantamount to exceeding the speed limit.

To illustrate this curious analogy, Trout displayed a graphic for jurors. On one side of a yellow line, in bold red letters, was the word "CRIME." On the other side of the yellow line were the words "recklessness," "negligence" and "mistakes" -- and a headless man in jacket and tie raising his hands in a shrug ...

The whole thing is here.

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