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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fitial prepares defense team
AG recommends governor hire private counsels

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial has been preparing a defense team in connection with an impending impeachment trial at the Senate, once the House of Representatives successfully moves the process to the Senate. The governor, however, will not be represented by the Office of the Attorney General amid concerns of conflict of interest.

The full House will be voting on the impeachment resolution on Monday.

Press secretary Angel Demapan said yesterday that the governor “will organize his defense and legal team once the impeachment moves up to the Senate.”

As of yesterday, the administration has yet to name the private counsels being considered to form the governor’s legal and defense team.

Some pro-impeachment House members told Saipan Tribune that if the governor is not preparing a legal team by now, the Fitial administration must be confident enough that the Senate will not have at least six “affirmative” votes to convict him.

Attorney General Joey Patrick San Nicolas, in an interview with KSPN 2 yesterday, said the OAG will not be providing legal representation for the governor should there be an impeachment trial at the Senate.

Instead, the AG recommends that the governor hire private counsel.

“There is determination of my office and the governor is aware of that. But of course he is free to hire private counsel and my recommendation would be that he hire private counsel but in answer to your question as to whether the Attorney General’s Office mainly Civil Division will be representing the governor, the answer is ‘no,’” San Nicolas told KSPN 2. San Nicolas has yet to respond to other media’s questions.

The AG said the governor has discussed the matter of legal representation with the OAG.

“The governor of course has to prepare his defense and of course it would be reasonable for him to look to those who represent him. I do represent the government and I provide counsel to the governor. But, yeah, he’s inquired about it and our response has been that the Attorney General’s Office will not be providing legal representation of the governor at the Senate for the impeachment matter,” he told KSPN 2.

The governor-aligned, four-member House minority bloc is also preparing a position paper on the impeachment resolution.

San Nicolas said no one from the OAG works with any member of the Legislature about the impeachment.

Some individuals from OAG were involved in some of the allegations contained in the impeachment resolution.

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