I agree with CREW's Melanie Sloan, this is a sad day for America. Now that Tom DeLay has managed to escape federal charges related to his dealings with Jack Abramoff, how long before Tweety's got DeLay back on his show kissing his butt? Here's the statement from CREW.
In response to the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Melanie Sloan released the following statement:
“It’s a sad day for America when one of the most corrupt members to ever walk the halls of Congress gets a free pass. As we continue the work of building a Washington that is worthy of the American people, the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute Mr. DeLay for his actions sends exactly the wrong message to current and future members. The fact that Jack Abramoff and Bob Ney (R-OH) are the only two people who went to prison for one of the worst corruption scandals in congressional history is shocking. The Hammer belongs in the slammer. Mr. DeLay still has crimes to answer for in Texas – generally not considered the best place to be a criminal defendant.”
I'm not holding my breath for Texas to do anything to him either after this. Transcript via CNN below the fold.
BLITZER: Here in the United States, the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay, has had a federal criminal investigation hanging over his head now for six years. But now, he says he's been told the case is closed. No charges have been filed or will be filed.
The Texas Republican was under investigation for ties to the lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud and other charges back in 2006. Abramoff admitted defrauding tribal clients of millions of dollars for helping getting casino licenses.
Let's talk to Tom DeLay.
He's joining us now from Houston.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
DELAY: Glad to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: On a scale of one...
DELAY: It's a great day.
BLITZER: ... On a scale of one to 10, 10 being thrilled beyond control, how thrilled are you right now?
DELAY: Well, I'm pretty thrilled. I'm very happy for my family. They don't have to go through this anymore, at least this phase of it. We've still got to try, starting next week, on indictments of laws that didn't exist in Texas. But it makes you feel good, number one, that you've been found innocent and it, my family is relieved. You know, my wife gets up every day and thinks I'm going to prison or going to have our house raided and it's had a huge impact on her health. So hopefully this will help.
BLITZER: When I heard about the decision over six years you've been investigated by two administrations, the Bush administration justice department, the Obama administration justice department, four attorneys general, and now all of a sudden they're saying to you, never mind. No crimes were committed. No charges will be filed. I was reminded of that quote that Ray Donovan the labor secretary during the Reagan administration gave after he was exonerated for charges, which office do I go to get my reputation back? Is that how you feel right now as far as the federal charges are concerned?
DELAY: Well, Wolf, as you know, politics has changed greatly over the last ten or 15 years. I've been under these kinds of attacks actually for 15 years. And it's not good enough for your political enemies to ruin your reputation. They now want to bury you, vilify you, bankrupt you, put you in prison and then dance on your grave. I'm hoping that people will see what's happened to me and stop this criminalization of politics for the politics of personal destruction. It's not healthy for the country and it is certainly not healthy for the institution of the House of Representatives.
BLITZER: Do you see what's happening for example to Charlie Rangel or Maxine Waters right now? Is that similar to what was happening to you or do you see a difference?
DELAY: I see a big difference. Charlie Rangel's already admitted his guilt on the floor of the house in a speech last week. I don't know about Maxine Waters. The only similarity is the ethics committee has been politicized and it's taken over two years to do anything with Charlie Rangel and for that I regret that but he's admitted guilt. I was never guilty. Back in 1996, Patrick Kennedy, chairman of d triple c announced to the world that they were going to get Tom Delay and it took them about 11 years to do it with a lot of frivolous ethics charges. I even had Kennedy file a racketeering suit against me and they finished it with the conclusion of indicting me, knowing that under the Republican rules the Democrats don't have such a rule that I had to step aside as leader if I was indicted. That's all they wanted. So I think what's happening to Charlie and to me is completely different because this investigation was criminal not ethics.
BLITZER: And with Charlie Rangel he says yeah he may have made some mistakes in filing taxes late and stuff like that but doesn't believe any criminal charges should certainly be filed against him. We're not going to get into the whole Charlie Rangel/Maxine Waters issue right now. What is the major lesson you learned from this whole six-year investigation and this experience?
DELAY: Well, I don't know what lesson I learned, Wolf. I gave over a thousand documents, all the documents that I had to the justice department. I even gave them all my computers in my office as well as personal computers. They looked at all of that. I instructed my aides to cooperate fully. And so the justice department had everything and you would think in a year they'd be able to look at everything that I had. I wasn't hiding under the speech and debate clause. They had everything. You would think in a year they'd understand that there is nothing there. And I think that the thing I learned the most, Wolf, is, you know, I just, I'm not mad because they thought I was corrupt. I'm mad because they thought I was stupid. I knew they were after me and I had lawyers all the day long telling me what I could and could not do to make sure that none of this could happen or that I was living within and working within the rules of the house and within the law and I've been proven right.
BLITZER: How much did this cost you in legal fees, this federal investigation?
DELAY: Well, I don't know. The federal investigation alone cost me over $500,000. The racketeering suit cost over $5,000. The several ethics charges all dismissed by the way. So a total we added up over an 11-year period was $8 million in legal fees.
BLITZER: Out of your pocket you had to spend $8 million to defend yourself?
DELAY: No. I don't have that kind of money. It did empty my bank account but luckily I have supporters all over the country who appreciate me standing up and fighting hard for conservative values and I was able to raise most of that money.
BLITZER: So the $8 million figure is what, what the federal government spent or what your legal fees were?
DELAY: My legal fees over an 11-year period of several ethics charges of racketeering suit, this federal investigation, the indictment that I'm under right now all total up to over $8 million. Can you imagine over a six-year period what the federal government has spent in lawyers and FBI agents investigating me to no avail?
BLITZER: And you still have these state charges that are pending in Texas. That's going to be coming up for adjudication within a few weeks. Is that right?
DELAY: Actually I go to trial next Tuesday. And I'm looking forward to it. I've been waiting five years to go to trial. I could not get to trial. That's a long story. But we're finally going to start to trial with a pretrial hearing on Tuesday. Hopefully I can get before a jury very quickly because I was indicted by a run away rogue district attorney and indicted on laws that didn't even exist in Texas at the time.
BLITZER: After six years, Tom Delay will not face any federal charges. That investigation is over with. I know you're thrilled about that, Tom Delay. Thanks very much.