Published September 29, 2005
The following interview was conducted on 9/29/05.
TONY SNOW, HOST: Speaking of men fighting back, I'm joined now by
Representative Tom DeLay.
Tom, it's great to have you.
REP. TOM DELAY (R), TEXAS: Hi, Tony. How are you doing?
SNOW: I'm doing fine. Now you think that Ronnie Earle has
committed crimes that are worth prosecuting. What are they?
DELAY: Well, first and foremost, I think he -- I know that he
extorted the corporations that he indicted by coming back to them and
offering to dismiss the charges if they gave hundreds of thousands of
dollars to his favorite charities.
SNOW: And, as a matter of fact, there are four corporations that
have already done that. That is Sears, Cracker Barrel, let's see, what
else do we have? I hate to do this. I'm thumbing through my diamless
(ph). Sears, Cracker Barrel, the Questerra Corporation, and there was
one more, I'm sorry. But you're absolutely right, he's shaking them down.
And what he basically said is you give me money, you send it off to
the University of Texas for a program that uses the telephone as a
brainwashing device and tells people how bad corporate money is and I
will take the charges down against you.
So you -- now do you intend to pursue charges against him?
DELAY: I'm not -- right now I'm involved in trying to beat an
indictment. I'm sure other people are looking at this. But there's
also the fact that you know he holds himself out as the savior against
corruption in elections and hates corporations and union money, yet he
takes corporations and union money. And I think that's illegal,
according to Texas Election Code.
SNOW: Yes. By the way, the fourth company is Diversified
Collection Services, just to complete the record.
What's interesting, at least in the case of Sears, Sears had donated
$25,000 to a PACUN (ph). They ended up having to spend $100,000 on the
charity that Ronnie Earle liked. So again, I just want to be clear
about this, you think Earle broke the law and you think he can be
prosecuted for doing this?
DELAY: Well, if he did break the law, it's certainly unethical.
DELAY: And they have an ethics site -- I think they still have
ethics in their legal profession and ways to address that. He also is
supposed to be, as a prosecutor when he does an investigation, he's
supposed to be impartial.
DELAY: And he went out, and I think this is highly unethical, he
went out and made statements and cooperated with the press. That's the
way he does things. He drags your name through the press as long as he
can and then indicts you. And went to a fund raiser for a Democratic
party, stood up at their fund raiser and personally attacked me, the man
that's supposed to be under investigation, even though I wasn't.
SNOW: Now this is on May 12 of this year where he appeared at an
event for the Texas Values and Action Coalition. It was an event in
Dallas. They raised $102,000. And, in particular, he went after you.
DELAY: By the way, that organization is an identical kind of
organization as TRMPAC.
SNOW: Right, and that was in fact the -- well, furthermore, there
are a number of cases. Isn't that standard operating procedure, you get
these political action committees, they gather money, they send them off
to the national party and the national party can make use of it as it
sees fit, correct?
DELAY: That's correct.
SNOW: All right. Now what happens quite often is the national
party will, in fact, finance local campaigns.
DELAY: That's correct.
SNOW: Now it's illegal to send money directly from a corporation to
a local campaign. It is not illegal to send money to the national party
and have that distributed to local campaigns.
DELAY: I don't know about that. But I'm not a lawyer, and it
doesn't matter. I wasn't in the day-to-day decisions about sending all
these checks to different accounts and all that. I do know that for
them to use my name and to headline fund raisers and stuff, I insisted
that every decision they made would be made with a lawyer or an
accountant so it was legal.
DELAY: Because, frankly, I've been under scrutiny for 11 years and
you know been through several ethics battles, all of them dismissed. I
even had a racketeering suit files against me by the Democrats. That
was dismissed. This has been going on for 10 years.
SNOW: Do you expect that the conspiracy charges that were filed
yesterday to be dismissed?
SNOW: And so your attorneys will seek dismissal before it goes to
DELAY: Absolutely. They'll use everything available to me and
we'll do it as quickly as possible so that we can get back to our
agenda. I mean we've still got to cut taxes and cut spending and deal
with the disaster and deal with our gas prices and deal with border
security and immigration. We haven't lost focus on our agenda. We're
SNOW: You had met with House Speaker Denny Hastert, does he have
full confidence that you'll be returning soon as majority leader?
DELAY: Yes, he does.
SNOW: And it also appears that yesterday at the caucus meeting,
where all the Republicans got together and they were naming interim
replacements, Roy Blunt and David Dreier, that that ended up -- well,
why don't you describe what happened behind closed doors to the best of
DELAY: Well, it's a hole that's created in the leadership chain of
command and you have to fill that hole. And the speaker did as best he
could and kind of figure out how we can keep the trains running and keep
our agenda on track, and so he moved the majority whip to the acting
leader. And the Rules Committee chairman, who deals with all the bills
and everything anyway, to do what the majority leader normally does and
that's set the schedule.
DELAY: So Roy Blunt, obviously, with sitting at the leadership
table, still doing the strategizing and all that and carrying out the
functions of what is required of the majority leader, and David Dreier
taking care of getting the agenda on track and moving it forward.
SNOW: It seems to me that there has been a lot of criticism of the
president. And you've taken a few whacks, too, for having said a couple
of weeks ago that you cut everything you could out of the budget. It
seems to me, at this point, that there may be a kind of new energy in
the Republican Party for getting back to base principles, cutting the
size of government, cutting taxes and building a case that less
government can be more compassionate than a big, old, fat, heavy,
lumbering, expensive government.
DELAY: Yes. Well, we never got off the track. I mean, we were
headed in one track. Where the real money is and where the real savings
is and what I was trying to say was, and I know it's getting down in the
weeds, but just discretionary spending is things like NASA, the Customs
Service, FBI and that kind of stuff.
DELAY: We have cut that budget many, many times. In fact, the
House passed all the appropriations bills this year and cut over $4
billion out of them, and they're sitting over in the Senate, and
eliminated 98 programs.
DELAY: The real money is in entitlements.
DELAY: The entitlement system...
SNOW: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.
DELAY: Yes, and others.
DELAY: Many others. They have gotten out of control. They need to
be reformed. And in that reform, if we apply our principles, there will
be a huge savings.
DELAY: And that's where we're headed, we're the entitlement reform.
SNOW: All right.
DELAY: And we've always been headed there. There's just some that
step forward and most of them offered as offsets to the Katrina
spending, those issues that they voted against.
SNOW: OK. You, Representative Tom DeLay, stand by. We've got to
take a quick break to pay some bills. When we return, much more. Roy
Blunt later in the hour, as well. Stay here.
SNOW: From M.C. Hammer to The Hammer, I am speaking, of course,
with Tom DeLay of Sugarland, Texas.
OK, Representative DeLay, a couple of things, first, I'm going to
talk about morale within the Republican Congress. I'm looking at the
newspapers today. And the headlines are trouble gets worse for GOP.
For GOP, DeLay indictment adds to a sea of troubles. Loss of a leader,
taint of a scandal is double hit for Bush. GOP loses a powerful
enforcer. Are your -- tell me how your colleagues have reacted to the
DELAY: Well, first of all, I've never seen more support of my
colleagues for me, and they want to see me continue the work that we've
SNOW: They're not just kissing up?
DELAY: No, they're not.
DELAY: You can tell. I've been around here long enough to tell
it's true support.
DELAY: And, as it turned out, it's really amazing. I wish you
could plan for these kinds of things. The conference that we had
yesterday, it was obvious to me that what the Democrats have done is
united us stronger than we ever have been.
SNOW: So you think...
DELAY: Right at a time when we were sort of falling apart.
SNOW: Right. So everybody is now maybe not a big happy family.
What does this mean, because I've gotten a lot of calls that say, yes,
Republicans, they always roll over, they get hammered on this stuff,
they don't fight back. Do you think there's any fight in the party?
DELAY: I definitely do. That's with those members walking out of
that meeting yesterday, they were ready to get to work, they want the
agenda up front and busy, get the taxes cut and the gas prices fixed and...
SNOW: When you say gas prices fixed, I hope you're not talking
about price controls. I hope you were talking about more refineries.
DELAY: No, we are Republicans, more refineries, more supply.
SNOW: OK. OK, there you go.
DELAY: That bill will be on the floor next week.
SNOW: OK, so drill and refine it. OK, now, I want to get back a
little bit to Ronnie Earle.
SNOW: You actually wouldn't talk to him. Did you give the
impression when you talked to him, well, how long ago was this?
DELAY: This is about a month ago.
SNOW: About a month ago.
DELAY: It was a voluntary interview.
SNOW: Did you have -- and so you volunteered to go in and talk to
him. Did you get the impression then that he wasn't going to indict you
or did you think all along, yes, he's going to...
DELAY: Well, I got the impression, particularly from his chief
prosecutor, that they knew that I had nothing to do with the day-to-day
operation, that there was no conspiracy here, that, as far as I'm
concerned. And I still maintain that the three young men that they
indicted falsely had done nothing wrong. And that's sort of the
impression we got and the following days after that.
I mean it was pretty much over until two weeks ago and Ronnie Earle
made a statement that I was never, which I've been claiming, never part
of this investigation in publicly. And his local paper did a scathing
editorial on him, and so what was this all about if Tom DeLay isn't
And then the Democrats came in and put pressure on him, Democrat
leaders, and that next Monday he informs my lawyers that he has a
runaway grand jury, the sixth grand jury that he has empanelled, and
they're going to indict me. And we went to work and we were under the
impression that he probably wasn't or he would have even called me to
testify before the grand jury.
DELAY: I have not testified before the grand jury to present my
side of the case and they indicted me anyway.
SNOW: Do you think he put them up to it?
DELAY: Who put it up? What?
SNOW: Ronnie Earle, do you think he encourages them to indict you?
DELAY: Absolutely. Grand juries don't run away.
SNOW: Yes, I didn't...
DELAY: Prosecutors control grand juries.
SNOW: So they had a runaway prosecutor?
SNOW: All right. So interestingly, do you think he could be -- we
talked before about the fact that he did political activism, he used
your name at this May fund raiser. The ABA, the American Bar
Association, Code of Ethics strictly prohibits that kind of thing. Do
you think he could or should be -- I know you're not an attorney, but I
want to get your opinion, do you think he could or should be disbarred
DELAY: Well I don't know if I'd go that far. I certainly think the
Bar Association should investigate it. This is a huge blight on the
profession, a lawyer's profession. This is an incredible abuse of
power. It's been going on for years. Nobody has done anything about it
because they're scared of him.
But now they've got a hold of somebody that's not afraid of him and
will stand up for my rights because the facts and the truth are on my
side. I did nothing wrong. And the only reason I got indicted is
because we have a rule that says leaders have to step aside if you are
SNOW: Well do you have -- have any Democrats come to you on the QT
and said I'm embarrassed by this?
SNOW: Members of Congress?
DELAY: Many of them. Members of Congress.
SNOW: Do they wish that Ronnie Earle would cease and desist?
DELAY: They didn't say that. They were just -- they think this is
an awful travesty.
SNOW: How about the reaction in your home district, there have been
plenty of attempts to try to target you, what has this done?
DELAY: Well, it's pretty amazing. The reaction we're getting all
day yesterday and today has been very heartwarming. I -- it -- and the
best part about this, you know, that this has been an announced, a
publicly announced strategy by the Democrats, by the DCCC, their
campaign committee, Irama Manuel (ph), Nancy Pelosi, that they are going
to come get me. They started this in 1993 were my first ethics
charges. Then in '95 ethics charges. And then a Rico (ph) racketeering
DELAY: And then some more ethics charges. All of these charges
have been dismissed because they're frivolous. And they've built up
this body of thought, well because this is so over the top, this
indictment is so over the top and so political, people immediately see
it as such and it's wiped out their whole strategy.
SNOW: In other words, it's made you stronger in your home district?
DELAY: Well, I don't know. I know what the reaction has been and
the support has been incredibly overwhelming.
SNOW: Yes. So when, if you had to make a guess, first, are you
fully confident that after all this is done you will, in fact, be able
to return as majority leader? Or do you worry that the Republicans are
going to say, you know we kind of like Roy Blunt, or we kind of like
David Dreier, why don't they just stay there and, Tom, you can relax,
they've been beating up on you for a long time?
DELAY: That's -- all I want is I want to get this agenda done.
DELAY: I want to continue what we're doing, a smaller government,
limited government, more cut spending, cutbacks of -- and we're going to
stay focused on that. What happens to me is immaterial. What's
important here is what's good for the nation. And there is plenty of
these members around here they can provide the leadership. Every one of
our members, Republican members, are leaders and they don't need me.
But at the same time, I've been able to contribute and I will contribute
to it as long as I can.
SNOW: So there's a possibility that even if -- you know even if the
charges are dropped, you might not be majority leader?
DELAY: No, no, the rule is I temporarily set aside. So when this...
SNOW: Yes, that's -- OK...
DELAY: ... is over with, I go back to being majority leader
SNOW: So you've got to make a prediction, if you're making a
prediction, how long until you get to resume that?
DELAY: No sooner than two or three months. And the way these
Democrats operate, they're going to try to drag this out through the
election and have me stand for reelection having been indicted. So,
it'll be hard, but Texas does have speedy trials and we're going to take
advantage of that. And I have hired the lawyer that got Senator Kay
Bailey Hutchison's charges dismissed, and under the same scenario, by
SNOW: So you think Ronnie Earle, just to wrap up, and I know you've
got to go, and I appreciate this, you think Ronnie Earle himself is
vulnerable to legal charges?
DELAY: I think he is, yes.
SNOW: OK. Representative Tom DeLay, God speed, thanks for joining us.
DELAY: Thank you -- Tony.
SNOW: All right, quick break. When we return, Representative Roy
Blunt, we're going to hear from him, because, as Tom DeLay just said, a
lot of work to be done in Washington. Roy Blunt is going to be taking
up a lot of that. We're going to talk to him about that next. Stay here.