Ex-BP executive fighting charge that he obstructed congressional oil spill investigation

Government And Institutions Associated Press

Attorneys for a former BP executive facing an obstruction charge in the 2010 Gulf oil spill asked a federal judge Wednesday to dismiss the two criminal counts as his trial approaches in March.

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The defendant is David Rainey, who has pleaded not guilty to allegations that he hampered a congressional investigation into the spill.

The hearing before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt dealt with a variety of issues ahead of Rainey's scheduled trial — including motions by the defense to dismiss both counts of the indictment.

Rainey was first indicted in November 2012 in a House subcommittee probe into the oil spill that began with the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. It killed 11 workers and resulted in millions of gallons of oil being spewed into the Gulf.

One count says Rainey obstructed Congress. The other charges him with making false statements regarding his calculations on the rate at which oil was flowing from BP's Macondo well after the explosion.

Among the defense arguments are: one count is unconstitutionally vague; the congressional subcommittee investigation that Rainey is accused of obstructing had not been properly authorized; and one of the charges takes Rainey's statements about the flow rate from the well out of context.

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Engelhardt threw out one count of the original indictment. A federal appeals court later reinstated it. Meanwhile, prosecutors fine-tuned the charges.