Independent counsel Whitney North Seymour Jr. rested the perjury case against former White House aide Michael K. Deaver yesterday, ending 19 days of testimony on charges that Deaver attempted to conceal his lobbying of senior Reagan administration officials.
The end to the first case brought to trial by an independent counsel named under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act came after jurors heard five hours of Deaver's recorded testimony to a grand jury last year.
"With that, your honor, the government rests, subject to the hearing tomorrow," Seymour announced. Lawyers said it is possible, although unlikely, that U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson may ask Seymour to offer additional evidence to counter expected defense motions.
Both sides are to return to court this morning to argue motions that could determine what defense Deaver's lawyers must mount against the five-count indictment.
The former White House deputy chief of staff is accused of lying to a House subcommittee and a federal grand jury about contacts he made on behalf of clients of a lobbying firm that he established after leaving government May 10, 1985.
Deaver's lawyers have said their defense will last from "one day to two weeks." They are expected to argue today that the government failed to prove that Deaver willfully lied to the investigating panels and that portions of questions he faced were not material to the subcommittee or grand jury missions.
Jackson told jurors to return Monday morning when the defense is scheduled to begin. Yesterday, the jury heard the end of Deaver's grand jury testimony recounting how President Reagan jested with him about his lobbying after he had left the White House.
"We've got this great idea about this twin-plant project that I want to talk to you about," Deaver quoted the president as saying in reference to a Puerto Rican tax project for which Deaver was lobbying.
Deaver said he countered by saying, "Mr. President . . . you can't talk to me about that."
"You straightened him out?" Seymour asked.
"I straightened him out," Deaver replied as members of the grand jury were heard laughing.