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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A former top aide to Pennsylvania's attorney general testified Wednesday his "heart sank a little" when his boss asked him to try to block a special investigation into a grand jury leak.
Bruce Beemer testified against Attorney General Kathleen Kane as she fights perjury and obstruction charges in suburban Philadelphia. Kane, a first-term Democrat, is accused of leaking grand jury material about a dormant criminal investigation to a newspaper to embarrass a rival.
Beemer said he was stunned to see the 2014 newspaper article because he knew the leak had to come from their office. He suspected someone in a satellite office but, over time, feared something worse.
When he told Kane they needed to investigate, she said it was "no big deal" and they had "more important things to do," he said.
Kane later asked him to file a court challenge to try to block the special investigation initiated by the state Supreme Court. Fortunately, he said, it never came to that because he would have refused.
"I got really kind of frustrated at one point and I ... said, 'Quite frankly, General, I would think you would want to know who in your office released this information,'" said Beemer, a veteran prosecutor who is now the state's inspector general.
"The first thing she said was this material that was released, it was not grand jury material," Beemer said. "I believe there's no doubt that it's grand jury material. If the material in that document can be released, then we might as well do away with grand jury secrecy."
The documents that found their way into the Philadelphia Daily News detailed an investigation into an NAACP official who was never charged in the case. Prosecutors believe the leak tarnished his reputation.
Former top Kane aide Adrian King testified Wednesday that he helped get a manila envelope from the agency's Harrisburg office to political consultant Josh Morrow in Philadelphia. Prosecutors say the envelope contained the secret grand jury documents leaked to the Daily News.
King said he did not look at the material and presumed it was routine campaign literature.
King had dated Kane in law school and even lived with her for more than a year, he said. They remained friends, and he took a steep pay cut from his law firm job to become her second in command when she took office. But he said he now believes Kane is "trying to frame" him for the leak, and he barely hid his anger as her lawyers cross-examined him Wednesday.
Kane had at least once hinted that she feared she could be arrested, according to Beemer.
"At one point she said, 'You know, Bruce, if I get taken out of here in handcuffs, what do you think my last act will be?'" he recalled, suggesting he could lose his job. "I was concerned about it, but we moved on."
Kane's five-person legal team has echoed her initial view that the documents she wanted to make public were confidential. Kane told the grand jury she did not believe she was sworn to confidentiality about the 2009 case because she did not take office until 2013. Beemer challenged that interpretation, saying prosecutors cannot release prior grand jury material even if they had not been there to take an oath of secrecy.
This story has been corrected to show Beemer is a veteran prosecutor, not a 20-year veteran of the attorney general's office, and the county district attorney, not a special prosecutor, had Kane arrested.
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