Published September 28, 2005
This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from Sept. 28, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. EDT.
BRIT HUME, ANCHOR: I'm joined now by Republican Congressman Tom DeLay of Texas, who stands accused tonight of a count of conspiracy to violate his state's campaign finance laws.
Congressman, as we noted earlier — I read the indictment — you do stand accused of this conspiracy.
Do you know what it is exactly you are believed to have done or accused of doing to start this conspiracy?
REP. TOM DELAY, R-TEXAS: Well, frankly, Brit, it's got my own lawyers scratching their head because the indictment is not specific about what I'm being charged with.
See, all they wanted to do was get an indictment so that I had to step aside temporarily as majority leader. That's been their goal all along.
HUME: How do you know that?
DELAY: Well, they announced it. It's on their Web site.
DELAY: The Democratic Campaign Committee.
And I have been going through this for 10 years. I have had ethics charges filed starting in 1993, again in 1995, a racketeering suit right after that, some more ethics charges right after that, and all of them have been dismissed.
This has been going on for two years — multiple grand juries.
And then they come out with an indictment that my own lawyers don't know what I'm charged with.
HUME: Now, back in August, you met with Ronnie Earle.
HUME: Could you describe that meeting, what you said and what he said?
DELAY: It was a voluntary interview.
They asked me to come in and it was about an hour and a half long. And we went over it, and basically what I showed them was, yes, it was my idea to set up this political action committee...
HUME: This is the Texas Republican Majority Political Action Committee known as TRMPAC.
DELAY: That's correct.
HUME: And it is TRMPAC that is alleged in this indictment to have taken money raised from corporations, sent it to Washington through the RNC and then had it come back as, in effect, corporate money into the state of Texas, which forbids that.
DELAY: And that's not the case.
What this is, is something done by Democrats and Republicans totally legal back in the days of soft and hard money.
You could send soft money to the party. They would use that soft money for legitimate reasons, and then they would turn around and use their hard money and send it to candidates. It was even more money than was sent by TRMPAC to Austin.
But that's not the point here.
The point here is that it was my idea to set up TRMPAC. I got it all organized. Then the people that ran it, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, ran the day-to-day operations.
I had no fiduciary responsibility. I had no managerial responsibility. I and four other elected officials were on an advisory board. I went to five fundraisers. They did use my name to raise money, but that was the extent. So I didn't know what they were doing.
And, frankly, everything that they did, they did with the approval of lawyers and accountants.
HUME: Setting aside for a moment the question — and it seems to be a real question — of whether what happened here, carried out by these gentlemen, was illegal or not: Were you aware of what they were doing in terms of money being sent to Washington?
DELAY: No. Not at all.
HUME: You knew nothing of that?
DELAY: They told me about it later. And they'd tell me things are going well. Jim Ellis also runs my ARMPAC. And Jim Ellis would let me know how things were going because I was interested in how things are going and how much money they were raising.
HUME: In terms of this check for something like $191,000 that was sent from TRMPAC to Washington. Now that by itself does not establish any crime, but were you aware that that check was sent to Washington at the time?
DELAY: After it was done.
HUME: After it was done.
HUME: Ahead of time?
HUME: And did you, at any time, engage in any discussions with these men about how money that was raised by TRMPAC from corporations would be dispensed?
DELAY: No. I didn't know the candidates that they were giving money to. I just had nothing to do with the day-to-day operation. I just set it up as I do my political activities.
The point here is that Texas deserved a Republican House of Representatives. And I came in to Texas, and I wanted redistricting to happen because the people of Texas had been sorely underrepresented. Their values and their Republican leanings were sorely underrepresented because of redistricting and I wanted to change that.
The way you got to change that was to take the majority in the Texas House, and that was my goal. It was successful. We took the House. We did redistricting. We gained five Republican seats.
HUME: Did you encourage this PAC to raise money from cooperate sources?
DELAY: Absolutely. It was legal.
HUME: I know it's legal to do that. But having done that, how would that help your cause of electing state legislators in a state where it...
DELAY: Under Texas law you could raise corporate funds to run the administrative services of TRMPAC, pay salaries, pay the rent...
HUME: But they obviously raised more than that.
DELAY: That's why they sent it to the Republican state committee.
HUME: Right. Was it your understanding that money was going to come back into Texas?
DELAY: I wasn't part of that, but that's the way it works...
HUME: So in other words, if this money goes to Washington and some of it — because it is corporate money, you can't...
DELAY: No. It's different money.
HUME: Corporate money can't come back into Texas, but money that that committee has raised from individual sources could go into Texas.
HUME: So if that money frees up money from individual donors...
DELAY: It doesn't free up money. The corporate money that TRMPAC sent to — I really don't want to get into the weeds on this.
HUME: I understand.
DELAY: But the corporate money that was sent to the Republican state election committee could be used by them for their administrative purposes. It is like your brother-in-law sending you some money to take care of the rent. They have other monies that are legitimate hard money, as it's called, raised legitimately that they can send down into the races. It's very legal and it's been done for years and years and years. And Democrats do it and the Republicans do it.
HUME: At a point here you decided to waive the statute of limitations on this offense.
HUME: And that's mentioned in the indictment. Describe that.
DELAY: I was sort of extorted out of that. Ronnie Earle let my lawyers know last week that I was going to be indicted because he had a runaway grand jury and that he was not going to go in and talked him out of it unless I waive my statute of limitations rights for another 30 days.
So I thought, "Yes, let's keep working on it."
HUME: Did you believe at that time you had a chance of talking him out of this indictment?
HUME: Did he ever say anything to you to give you a reason to believe that?
DELAY: I didn't talk to him. He talked to my lawyers.
HUME: When you were in that meeting in August, you talked to him?
DELAY: Yes, but that was an interview. That was a voluntary, hour-and-a-half interview.
HUME: Lawyers present?
DELAY: Lawyers present.
HUME: Stenographer present?
DELAY: Stenographer present. I was not under oath.
HUME: Not under oath?
HUME: All right. So what's next new for you now in terms of fighting this case?
DELAY: Well, I've hired Dick DeGuerin, who's my lawyer, who's the same lawyer that taught Ronnie Earle a lesson when he did this to Kay Bailey Hutchison, the senior senator from Texas.
And, you know, he's he did it against his Democrat political enemies. He did it against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison — the exact modus operandi.
He drags it out — I have been going through this for two years — so he gets all the press that he can to damage you and damage your reputation, and then he pulls the trigger at the end.
In this case he pulled the trigger so that I would step down as majority leader, and he won this round because I complied with the rules of the Republican conference.
But he does this all the time.
And Dick DeGuerin is going to try to solve this as quickly as possible.
HUME: His supporters maintain that while he is often accused of being a partisan — and you, indeed, have accused him of that — his history is that he has indicted a lot more Democrats than he has Republicans.
What about that?
Well, because back in those early days when he was indicting his political Democrat enemies, there were no Republicans in Texas.
There were no Republicans in leadership. We had maybe one governor. He went after conservative Democrats. The political situation in Texas back in those days was conservative Democrats against liberal Democrats.
He indicted the lieutenant governor, conservative Democrat. He indicted Jim Maddox, the attorney general. And he indicted Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
This is just the sleaziest of politics. He is a fanatic, a liberal political fanatic.
HUME: This case will be tried, though, if it ever gets to trial in his county, will it not, Travis County?
DELAY: Not necessarily. You can change venues.
HUME: But it will initially come before a court in his...
DELAY: He doesn't even know the law. He's supposed to — and I shouldn't talk like a lawyer.
He is supposed to refer this to my own home county. And he misstated the law in his press conference today.
This is a political hack that hardly ever goes to his own office. He only goes to office for press conference.
HUME: Tell me about the caucus today where the decision was made that Roy Blunt would step up to assume most of your duties?
DELAY: That's the best part of it.
HUME: What about it?
DELAY: The best part about it is the Republican Caucus members saw this for what it was. And the Democrats couldn't have done more to bring us together and unite us when we were actually falling apart.
Last week was a bad week for the unity in our caucus. I have never seen our caucus so unified. And they are focused on our agenda of getting tax cuts, entitlement reform, taking care of the disasters, gas prices.
We are sticking to our agenda and we are going forward.
HUME: Do you have any doubts as to whether you will be acquitted?
DELAY: No. I'm innocent. The truth is on my side and the facts are on my side. That's why this is just the worst travesty of justice I have ever seen.
HUME: Congressman DeLay, thank you for being here.
DELAY: Thank you, Brit.
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