Kane Saw Leak as ‘No Big Deal,’ Ex-Aide Says

      (CN) – A former first deputy to Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane told jurors on Wednesday that his one-time boss dismissed his concerns about grand jury documents that had been leaked to the press, telling him it “was no big deal.”
     The testimony by Bruce Beemer, the state’s former first deputy attorney general, kicked off day two of Kane’s trial on perjury, obstruction and other charges related to the leak that prosecutors say was intended to settle a political score.
     Beemer, who served under Kane from 2014 until just last month said he was shocked to read an article in the Philadelphia Daily News in June 2014 that quoted secret grand jury documents that had clearly come from the attorney general’s office.
     Beemer said he called Kane immediately upon finishing the article, and asked her if she’s read it.
     “This is a problem,” he said he told her. “It’s clear that they got this information directly out of our office.”
     He said he them asked for permission to look into the leak.
     “She said, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal. We have more important things to do,” Beemer recalled Kane saying before ending the call.
     Asked what he thought of Kane’s response to his concerns, Beemer told a crowded Montgomery County courtroom, “I don’t think anyone can stop the attorney general from doing what she wanted to do.”
     The article in question focused on a grand jury investigation led by Frank Fina, a former chief deputy attorney general, who was investigating allegations of corruption against J. Whyatt Mondesire, an NAACP leader in Philadelphia.
     The investigation was eventually dropped, and the article is said to have highly critical of Fina for an alleged pattern of non-prosecution by his office.
     Fina, who had also led the investigation into child sex abuse allegations against Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, had been a frequent target of Kane during her election campaign.
     She claimed he was part of a “good old boy” network that simply wanted the charges against Sandusky to disappear.
     After Kane took office, Fina departed for another job, but before he left, an article critical of the new attorney general appeared in local papers.
     Prosecutors claim Kane leaked the material about Fina to the Daily News reporter because she believed he was the source of the uncomplimentary article and was bent on revenge.
     On Tuesday, prosecutors tried to show that Kane, who has consistently maintained she’s done nothing wrong, had made contradictory and flat-out false statements about the leak.
     Among these was Kane’s assertion, read from a transcript from the investigation into her actions, that she released the material to the newspaper herself because her press office had been “dismantled.”
     On Wednesday, prosecutors sought to impeach this claim, by reading jurors an email Beemer received at the time from Renne Martin, who was then acting communications director for the attorney general’s office.
     In the email she asked Beemer to read the article and to provide her with guidance on how to address it.
     Beemer said even after speaking with Kane, he believed the leak was “a real problem.” He said short of getting to the bottom of the leak, he wasn’t sure how to proceed.
     Lead prosecutor Michelle Henry followed up by producing a handwritten log from June 6, 2014, in which Beemer wrote that he spoke to Kane, was “very troubled” by the Daily News article, and that Kane had been dismissive of his concerns.
     Beemer wrote in his notes, this is a “potential GJL” his shorthand for—Grand Jury Leak.
     “I was convinced the leak had to come out of our office and I was relieved when I found out there was an investigation,” Beemer told the jury.
     On cross examination, defense counsel Douglas Rosenbloom attempted to discredit the prosecution’s theory of revenge.
     Beemer acknowledged that Kane never directly said she had sought revenge against Fina.
     “She just wanted to justify the whole situation,” he said.
     Under questioning from Rosenbloom, Beemer also acknowledged that at no time did Kane ask him to make any formal attempt to thwart the special prosecutor who was assigned to investigate her.
     Throughout the morning testimony, Kane was an intent and focused presence in the courtroom. At the lunch break, she smiled and greeted people in the “defense seating” area in the courtroom and conferred with her attorneys.
     The afternoon lineup of witnesses appeared to be Kane’s entire former team of employees, who all turned on her — specifically Agent David Peifer, who acknowledged that he had an immunity deal.
     All witnesses called, including Bruce Beemer, Agent Michael Miletto, William Davis and Peifer formally worked in Kane’s office in some capacity.
     Kane’s defense team did make some headway when attorney Rosenbloom showed Beemer a secrecy oath for the 39th grand jury which he signed twice, once in May 2015 and again in June 2016, for the same grand jury.
     “I don’t know if I forgot, but I have no recollection of signing that, or if they handed me one and I didn’t really look,” Beemer said, providing no explanation why the document would have been signed twice.
     Not having knowledge of signing the oath is the same defense that Kane, whom he is testifying against, is using.
     Meanwhile, both Miletto and Davis, formerly the Deputy Attorney General under Fina, confirmed that Philadelphia Daily News staff writer Chris Brennan contacted them for comment on the leaked material.
     “Brennan contacted me and told me he was going to print an article on this, but I told him I had nothing to say” Miletto testified.
     Davis also corroborated that Brennan contacted him about a memo he wrote regarding Mondesire.
     “He seemed like he was reading from the document, and I told him I could not comment” Davis said.
           The prosecution’s final witness of the day Peifer, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Special Forces for the attorney general. In August 2015, Peifer was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.
     He testified that he signed a secrecy oath back in January 2013 when he joined the office and that Kane was present.
     “We all signed secrecy oaths that day,” Peifer said, including Kane.
     Peifer said learned of the leaked information published in the Daily News in June 2014.
     “I was pissed to say the least, and later that day I had a conversation with her [Kane] and I sent her the link that day,” Peifer testified, adding that at the time he wanted to make Kane immediately aware that he didn’t leak the grand jury information, and said her response was, “I would never suspect you over Adrian King.”
     Wednesday’s witnesses all testified that Kane was to blame for the leak, while maintaining their individual innocence on the stand.
     On Thursday, the prosecution will continuing making its case. Reporter Chris Brennan and King are expected to take the stand.
     The trial may wrap by the end of the week.
     
Pool photos via Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News.
In the top photo, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane enters court Wednesday for trial on charges that she leaked secret grand jury records as part of a political retribution scheme.

Agent David Peifer (inset) took the stand Tuesday.

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