Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane announces she will resign

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(CNN)

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced that she will resign her position as attorney general effective at the close of business on Wednesday.

“I have been honored to serve the people of Pennsylvania and I wish them health and safety in all their days,” Kane said.

Pennsylvania State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has been found guilty of perjury and obstruction, prompting renewed calls for her resignation.

Kane, a Democrat elected in 2012, had denied leaking confidential information about grand jury deliberations to the media and then attempting to cover it up, in an effort to harm her predecessor.

Defense Attorney Gerald Shargel told media outside the court that the verdict was “a crushing blow” but that his team had not lost its resolve.

“We will continue this litigation; we will continue this fight because we believe that our client has been wrongfully accused of misconduct,” he said.

But prosecutors stood by the verdict saying that justice had been done.

“It seemed that we had somebody who felt that she was above the law and that’s not the case because no one is above the law.

“We are a very honorable profession here. We have rules that we have to abide by and there are no exceptions to that,” said prosecutor Kevin Steele.

The felony offense of perjury carries a potential jail term and Steele said prosecutors were considering recommending prison time: “Everything is on the table.”

Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry spoke of the impact the case had on Kane’s staff.

“There are great men and women who work in the office of the Attorney General. Great prosecutors, great agents, great support staff, and they have had to suffer through what this defendant has done. Not just to them, but to the citizens of this commonwealth and I am glad to see that the end is just finally in sight,” she said.

Bribery investigation

The criminal charges were filed against Kane last August. They alleged that Kane acted on anger about a local newspaper article that accused her of dropping an investigation into politicians accepting bribes.

To get back at her predecessors, the complaint said Kane leaked sealed, confidential grand jury documents to the media and then lied under oath.

Kane said in an August 10, 2015, statement that a campaign of political retribution had been launched against her long before the allegations at the center of the criminal complaint.

The entire episode, Kane claimed, began with a series of “pornographic, racial and religiously offensive emails” from the office of former Attorney General Tom Corbett — who was elected governor in 2010 — and uncovered in an investigation.

She called for the release of the emails, but the move was blocked by state court Judge William Carpenter under what Kane called “a tortured interpretation of our state’s grand jury secrecy law.”

Her attorney addressed the issue with media after the verdict.

“We believe that our defense was compromised and we will fight that till the end,” Shargel said.

“We have arguments to make on whether this trial was fair, we intend to pursue all arguments that are available to us, we’re not going to walk away from any arguments,” he said.

On resignation

In a statement Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said the charges were “unbecoming of the Commonwealth’s top law enforcement officer.”

“As I have made clear, I do not believe Kathleen Kane should be Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I believed this when she was charged, and today, after conviction, there should be no question that she should resign immediately,” Wolf said in a statement.

“While there is no simple procedure to remove a civil officer, the Office of Attorney General and its employees, as well as the people of Pennsylvania, deserve to move on. I implore Attorney General Kane to do what is right: put the commonwealth’s residents first and step down from office,” he said.

Kane had previously resisted calls to step down, saying resignation would be an admission of guilt “and I’m not guilty.”

After Kane’s conviction Monday, Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason said it was “a terrible day for the Commonwealth.”

“It is time to bring honor and respect back to the Office of the Attorney General,” Gleason said.

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