A day after issuing nine pardons, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher invoked his Fifth Amendment right yesterday and refused to testify before the special grand jury investigating his administration’s hiring practices, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. Fletcher spent two minutes and 18 seconds in the jury room, and then Assistant Attorney General Scott Crawford-Sutherland called more witnesses, saying Fletcher’s pardons or lack of cooperation will not halt the grand jury’s work.
“The pardons do not preclude the grand jury from issuing indictments,” Crawford-Sutherland said in an interview. “The pardons do not preclude the grand jury from issuing a report.” On Monday evening, Fletcher pardoned nine current and former administration officials whom the jury had indicted on charges of hiring or firing merit system employees on the basis of politics. After his appearance before the grand jury, Fletcher explained during a news conference that he invoked the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination because he believes the attorney general’s investigation is politically driven. “I gave my name, address and, when he asked a question, I chose not to speak to the grand jury based on the fact that this entire investigation had turned into a political process,” he said.