A U.S. District Court judge yesterday refused to direct the U.S. Senate to allow Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr. (D-N.J.) to present evidence and confront witnesses against him Thursday when the full Senate considers an ethics committee recommendation that he be expelled from Congress for his Abscam bribery conviction.
Judge Gerhard A. Gesell said Williams' request was "clearly premature" because the full Senate has not yet considered whether there should be a broad evidentiary hearing or whether Williams' defense lawyers should be allowed to fully participate in the expulsion proceedings.
Meanwhile, Williams' atttorneys said they have discovered evidence of "massive perjury" in his and other Abscam cases and indicated they would discuss the evidence in a meeting with Senate leaders Monday, apparently in hopes of getting a postponement of the debate.
David Dir, one of the attorneys, would not discuss what the evidence is.
Senate legal counsel Michael Davidson told Gesell yesterday that the full Senate has taken no action in the case other than to place on its calendar the ethics committee resolution that Williams be expelled.
In his ruling yesterday, Gesell noted that he knew of no instance in which the judiciary has told a coordinate branch of government--in this case the legislative branch--how to conduct its own proceedings before they have begun.
"It is . . . crystal clear the court should not intervene," Gesell said after a hearing yesterday.
Robert J. Flynn Jr., an attorney for Williams, yesterday conceded that his client's request for a full hearing could be put before the Senate when it considers expulsion Thursday. But, he said, even if the Senate agreed to that request, there may be little time for Williams to issue subpoenas or to call witnesses, and no assurances that the Senate would postpone the proceeding.
The Senate leadership has refused to recommend to the full Senate that either Williams' defense lawyer or counsel for the ethics committee be permitted to address the Senate during the expulsion proceedings.
Williams' lawyer has also protested an ethics committee decision against giving Williams transcripts of private committee deliberations.
Davidson told Gesell yesterday however that the full Senate has not yet considered Williams' request for those documents.
Williams was convicted in New York last May on charges he agreed to trade his influence for a secret share of a $100 million loan offered by an FBI agent posing as an Arab shiek.