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Maxine Waters Ethics Trial In Jeopardy For This Year

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WASHINGTON — Two House ethics committee lawyers have been suspended, possibly ending any chance that Rep. Maxine Waters of California will get the ethics trial she has demanded this year.

Waters was to go on trial before eight House members on Nov. 29. The ethics committee postponed the proceeding on Nov. 19, citing the discovery of new evidence but not mentioning the suspensions.

On Wednesday, Richard A. Sauber, the lawyer for the suspended attorneys, said the staff members were placed on paid leave the same day the postponement was announced. One of them, C. Morgan Kim, was the lead committee attorney in the Waters case. The other lawyer, Stacy Sovereign, also worked on the case.

The ethics committee's chairwoman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., has declined to comment on the suspensions. Sauber said, "They were inexplicably put on administrative leave" by Lofgren.

Sauber added that the senior Republican on the committee, Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama, did not sign the letter suspending the lawyers.

Waters is charged with improperly trying to obtain federal bailout money for a bank in which her husband owns stock and formerly was a director. She has vigorously denied the charges.

In a statement, Waters said the integrity of the committee had been compromised.

"The committee should communicate the reasons for this disciplinary action. Important questions must be answered," she said.

"Did the committee's attorneys withhold exculpatory evidence?" she added. "Leak documents or speak to the press without authorization? Engage in partisan activity? Mislead members of Congress? Was the disciplinary action justified? What impact does this have on my case?"

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