CHICAGO (WLS) -- Scandalized ex-Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock went back on offense Wednesday, telling the ABC7 I-Team that "there is no doubt the government violated my rights. And there is no doubt the government lied." As his corruption trial nears, Schock says "the only question now is whether they are above the law or held to the same standard as the everyday Americans they seek to prosecute."
The former downstate Congressman hadn't won many skirmishes since he resigned from office and was indicted. Then on Wednesday, a federal judge signed off on the withdrawal of Schock's nemesis prosecutor in the case against him, prompting the once-rising Republican star to lash out at U.S. authorities who seek to put him in jail.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass sent a notice to the federal court in Urbana that he was withdrawing from the prosecution team. No reason was provided, court records do not reveal a backstory and federal authorities have not offered an explanation but through the investigation into allegations of corruption by Schock, the downstate Republican's legal team has accused Bass of misleading a federal judge and inappropriately inquiring about Schock's sexuality.
"The vast majority of federal prosecutors are hard-working, dedicated people who fully adhere to the cause of justice and their ethical obligations" said Schock's attorney George Terwilliger in a statement to the I-Team. "It is so sad when there is an aberration and an exception to that honorable practice" Terwilliger said. The Schock legal team had upbraided Bass in court and in public, accusing him of heavy-handedness.
Bass had led the prosecution team for more than three years-and his termination from the case would seem to be ill-timed: just as a trial date is about to be set. A scheduling hearing is set to take place on July 6 with Judge Colin Bruce. The phone conference will likely result in a trial date for the Schock prosecution. An assistant prosecutor on the case is said to be preparing to take over the lead chair.
While it is unusual for the top prosecutor on any criminal case to step aside so close to trial, the long-time prosecutor will apparently still lead central Illinois' public-corruption unit.
Bass was subjected to several uncomfortable court proceedings last year when the judge complained that he had been misled by the prosecutor; Schock's attorneys accused Bass of improperly poking into Schock's personal life and sexuality; and House of Representatives attorneys alleged that investigators under Bass pulled off "an apparent theft" of congressional records for use in the case.
Schock is charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, filing false federal tax returns, submitting inaccurate reports to the Federal Election Commission, making false statements and theft of government funds and resigned from Congress in 2015. He was indicted the following year and has pleaded not guilty.
"The government was found to have violated my 5th amendment constitutional rights eleven separate times" Schock told the I-Team late Wednesday. "They then lied to the federal judge in official court documents in an attempt to cover it up."
Bass' mysterious exit from the headliner case comes just a few weeks after Schock's pre-trial appeals were denied and the way cleared for proceedings to begin.
Aaron Schock: "government violated my rights," staged "cover-up"
More TOP STORIES News