John Dowd, the lawyer who successfully defended John McCain during the Senate Ethics Committee investigation of the Keating Five scandal, spoke to reporters on a conference call earlier today. After a nearly two-year investigation, the committee exonerated McCain and Democratic senator John Glenn, who, it just so happens, spoke at an Obama rally yesterday.
Dowd emphasized that McCain fully cooperated with the investigation and went to great lengths to remain above reproach. McCain joined a meeting with regulators in order to make sure that his Arizona constituent, Charles Keating, was being treated fairly by federal regulators. McCain now says he agrees with the opinion of the ethics committee that he exercised "poor judgment" because a meeting with a group of senators could be viewed as intimidation by federal regulators.
Dowd said that when McCain "discovered that Keating was pushing too hard, he kicked him out of his office and cut off relations with him." Dowd suspects that the committee kept up its investigation for political reasons since McCain was the only Republican senator under investigation, calling it "a classic political smear job on John." A 1995 New York Times article concurs with that assessment:
During the Keating Five scandal, committee Democrats resisted dropping the case against John McCain, the Arizona Republican, because that would have left only Democrats accused of improper dealings with Charles Keating, the savings and loan executive.