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A former White House official convicted of lying to federal investigators about his ties to notorious ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff appeared to fall short last week of convincing a federal judge that he deserves a new trial. At a hearing Aug. 24 at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Paul Friedman appeared unmoved by Wiley, Rein & Fielding attorney Albert Lambert’s arguments that his client David Safavian, a former chief of staff for the General Services Administration, had received an unfair trial. Nathaniel Edmonds, one of the Justice Department prosecutors, saw the defense’s arguments this way: “What the defense is arguing is that it’s acceptable for that public servant to willfully speak half-truths. That should not be the law.” But Friedman took note when Lambert raised the question of the admissibility of dozens of e-mails used in the trial. “I don’t know there is much you can say to persuade me otherwise,” Friedman said. Still, he suggested that the admissibility of the e-mails was a good issue to take up on appeal. “Some of the calls I made were close calls. Someone else might have looked at them differently,” he said.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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