After publicly asserting that she had followed the law, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane answered questions for more than two hours Monday before a grand jury investigating whether she or her office improperly released information to embarrass a political foe.
Kane's testimony was private, but as she prepared to take the stand in a Montgomery County courtroom, she told reporters she would tell the special prosecutor "the facts and the truth."
Reading prepared remarks, she acknowledged that her office had released information, but said it did so "in a way that did not violate statutory or case law regarding grand jury secrecy."
She was tight-lipped when she emerged later, letting two high-profile attorneys speak for her.
"Nothing she said suggested in any way that she committed a crime - because she didn't commit a crime. She didn't cross any ethical line," said Gerald Shargel, a New York City criminal defense lawyer. "As far as we are concerned, this is over."
Kane's appearance, which she called "the worst-kept secret in Pennsylvania," capped weeks of uncertainty about the case.
Twice before, sources have told The Inquirer, she canceled plans to testify before the grand jury, which is due to expire this year.
Her last scheduled appearance was Oct. 21, when she was involved in a minor car crash in Lackawanna County that left her with a concussion and unable to travel.
She has been working from her Clarks Summit home since the accident. Her office said Kane's doctors told her she could return to work next week, "as tolerable."
But the attorney general decided to travel to the state office building outside Norristown despite her doctors' orders and had a "very, very long afternoon," Shargel said.
Kane emerged from the proceedings nibbling on a Twix bar, and said she was still feeling exhausted from injuries related to accident.
She declined to say more.
Shargel said the special prosecutor, Thomas Carluccio, had asked her about the accident and how she was feeling. Shargel declined to say if her injuries impacted her testimony or prevented her from answering any questions. He also said at no point did Kane invoke her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions so as not to incriminate herself.
Shargel is a bold-faced name among New York defense lawyers, with clients including movie stars, politicians, and former mob boss John Gotti. Kane's other lawyer is Lanny Davis, a former counsel to President Bill Clinton. Both are being paid by Kane, not her office, a spokesman said.
The Inquirer has reported that Carluccio is examining whether Kane's office leaked grand jury information to the Philadelphia Daily News about a 2009 investigation, handled by her Republican predecessors, into the finances of former NAACP head J. Whyatt Mondesire.
The Daily News, citing sources, reported that Kane's office was trying to determine why the 2009 investigation did not result in any charges.
The Mondesire inquiry was headed by Frank G. Fina, a former top prosecutor in the office who now works for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.
Kane, a Democrat who took office in January 2013, has been locked in an increasingly public and bitter battle with Fina over how cases were handled.
Davis said that certain information regarding that case was disclosed "with [Kane's] knowledge," but he added: "It was not, under the law, grand jury information."
In the statement she read to reporters, Kane suggested she was acting in the interest of transparency and was being punished for exposing corruption.
"The public has a right to know what public officials are doing or not doing with taxpayer dollars, and whether they are doing their jobs properly or attempting to investigate or prosecute possible criminal conduct," she said.
She referred to her controversial review of her predecessors' handling of the investigation into child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky - an inquiry led by Fina - and how in the course of that review, she discovered hundreds of e-mails sent by prosecutors and agents in the office that contained pornographic material.
"I promised I would expose corruption and the abuse of the legal system," Kane said. "The winds of change can only blow through open windows. My administration is being prevented from prying open the windows that corruption has nailed shut."
Her lawyers said her statement was carefully worded because she is constrained from speaking openly about the matter. They would not elaborate.
The Inquirer has reported that last summer, Fina obtained a ruling from the Montgomery County Court judge overseeing the leak investigation, and that the ruling barred Kane from citing Fina's name publicly in almost any fashion, according to several sources familiar with it.
Kane on Monday did not reference the ruling, but said certain "court orders expose me to legal risk if I do my job as attorney general that I was elected and trusted by the people of Pennsylvania to do."
A draft of her statement that was inadvertently released early Monday included a defiant line that Kane did not say when speaking to reporters. It said: "I understand that there are those on the public payroll who stand to lose their jobs and who may feel threatened by our commitment to expose them. I will not be deterred."