Sullivan and Cary did praise the trial judge, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, calling him a "hero" for using his "judicial scrutiny and instincts." They went on to call Holder a "pillar of integrity" and praised the "thousands of ethical prosecutors and FBI agents who have our admiration and respect for the work they do."
"The wrongdoing of a few should not taint the majority," they said in the statement.
Later Wednesday, Sullivan, who has rarely spoken to the media covering the Stevens case, repeated the statement to reporters gathered at the Williams & Connolly law firm offices in Washington, D.C.
In his statement, Stevens also expressed gratitude for the actions of the new prosecutors on the case and the judge and thanked his supporters.
Holder said that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility will "conduct a thorough review of the prosecution of this matter." The statement continued, noting that the department is reserving judgment on the prosecutors involved at this time. Holder leaves on an official visit to Mexico Wednesday afternoon.
Justice Department lawyers filed a motion with the court Wednesday morning, stating that a new trial would be "in the interest of justice," but that "based on the totality of circumstances and in the interest of justice, it will not seek a new verdict and dismiss the indictment with prejudice," meaning that the charges could not be filed again.
In reviewing the case, new prosecutors found that at trial, government attorneys questioned witness Allen about a conversation regarding the bills for renovations to Stevens' Girdwood, Alaska home. Allen said he thought Stevens asked for the bills to "cover his a--," but the defense produced evidence that the senator asked Allen to bill him.
The billing issue was central to the case, as the government alleged Stevens tried to conceal the value of the renovations; the defense said Allen never billed the lawmaker for the work.
But Allen, who suffered brain injuries injuries in a 2001 motorcycle accident, did not recall having the conversation in an earlier interview with prosecutors. And the other alleged participant in the conversation testified that it didn't occur.
Though he lost re-election last year, Stevens' legacy in Alaska remains.
Stevens helped work on statehood for Alaska and had built a reputation as a Senator for his ability to secure millions in federal dollars to Alaska, including the infamous "bridge to nowhere" project. Buildings and facilities all across Alaska, including the state's biggest airport, bear Stevens' name.
But Stevens is also known for his orneriness. On days when he was spoiling for a fight in the Senate, he often wore a tie bearing the angry comic book hero the Incredible Hulk. He even referred to himself as "a mean, miserable SOB."
Judge Sullivan has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday to formally discuss the government's motion to drop the case.