NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A news reporter testifying at Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s perjury trial declined Friday to name the person who gave him the secret documents at the heart of the case.
Chris Brennan, who was political editor at the Philadelphia Daily News when he wrote the story, invoked a state shield law that protects journalists from disclosing their sources.
Brennan acknowledged getting documents that showed an NAACP official had been investigated by Kane’s predecessor in 2009 but never charged.
Prosecutors say Kane leaked the documents through aides five years later to get back at a rival and then lied about it under oath, when a special prosecutor was investigating the apparent leak of grand jury material.
Kane’s former political consultant, Josh Morrow, told the jury he conspired with Kane to leak the documents and come up with a cover story afterward.
“We had conspired to create this story that wasn’t true,” Morrow testified Thursday. “Kathleen and I came up with a story that she was going to testify to and I was going to testify to.”
Prosecutors are winding down their case, and it’s unclear if Kane’s five-person legal team will have her testify. She has appeared cool and confident throughout the five-day trial, smiling along with the judge when Brennan, answering a question, said that “almost nothing surprises me as a political reporter.”
Kane, once a rising star in the state’s Democratic party, is set to leave office in January after a tumultuous first term that spawned her arrest, the loss of her law license and a statehouse impeachment effort. Kane, 50, has said she is being targeted for taking on an “old boys network” in state government.
Prosecutors have said the NAACP official, J. Whyatt “Jerry” Mondesire of Philadelphia, was collateral damage in Kane’s effort to embarrass a rival prosecutor. On Friday, they had his longtime fiancee testify. She said that Brennan’s unfairly maligned Mondesire, contributed to his ouster as the local NAACP president and took a toll on his health. Mondesire died last year.
Defense lawyer Gerald Shargel, gently questioning her, noted that Mondesire had already been suspended by the NAACP when Brennan’s article came out.