Menu

FBI Tape Reveals John Murtha's Role in Abscam Scandal

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 2, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: It was one of the biggest congressional scandals in our country's history. It was called Abscam. Undercover FBI agents posed as Middle Eastern businessmen and attempted to bribe members of the U.S. Congress in return for political favors for a fictional Arab sheik.

Now, 31 officials were targeted and when the dust cleared, one senator and five members of the House were convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges.

But one man who was caught on tape with the undercover agents was never indicted. His name: Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania. Now, after 26 years, the tape of Murtha's meeting is finally being seen by the public.

In the tape, Murtha can be seen meeting with undercover agent Anthony Amoroso. The agent wants to offer Murtha a bribe but at first, Murtha only seems interested in the fictitious Arabs investing in his district.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN MURTHA, D-PA.: Now, as I told Howard, I want to deal with you guys a while before I made any transactions at all, period. In other words, I want to say, "Look put some money in these guys." And I, just let me know, so I can say, you know, these guys are going to — they want to do business in our district. Then there's a couple businesses that I'm not personally involved in but would be very helpful for the district, that I could make a big play of, be very helpful to me.

After we've done some business, then I might change my mind. But right now, that's all I'm interested in. Period. And I'm going to tell you this. If anybody can do it, and I'm not bull (expletive deleted) you fellows, I can get it done my way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: A short while later the agent again offers Murtha a bribe of $50,000. This time, Murtha says that he might consider taking the money at a later date after they do more business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you now we're here together, I was under the impression, OK, and I told Howard we were willing to pay. And OK, I went out and got the fifty thousand. From what you're telling me, OK, you're telling me that's not what, you know, that that's not what you...

MURTHA: I'm not interested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

MURTHA: At this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

MURTHA: You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't, you know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: So for 26 years, that tape has not been seen by the public. But on Friday, it was published by The American Spectator. And our producers here at "Hannity & Colmes," we also showed the tape to an individual with intimate knowledge and details of the contents, who confirmed to us that it is, indeed, authentic. And Murtha was never indicted, in part because he agreed to testify against two of his colleagues, Democratic Congressman Frank Thompson and John Murphy.

Now, the House Ethics Committee split along a party line vote and did not punish Murtha, although the special counsel to the committee resigned in protest.

We asked Congressman Murtha to appear on tonight's program to explain what we saw on that tape. He declined, citing a previous engagement. Instead his office issued this statement:

"This is nothing but a political stunt designed to distract attention away from the message that we must change the direction of the war in Iraq. I am the guy that didn't take the money. I have been reelected to Congress 13 times since this tape was made 25 years ago. I will not be distracted."

Joining us now is a reporter for the American Spectator who uncovered the video. David Holman is with us.

David, that is shocking.

DAVID HOLMAN, AMERICAN SPECTATOR: Isn't it?

HANNITY: That is shocking to me. On tape. Go ahead.

HOLMAN: Well, what's even more shocking is that only 26 years later, are we now learning about it.

HANNITY: Why is it — why was there difficulty in getting the tape?

HOLMAN: I'm sorry?

HANNITY: Why was there difficulty in releasing this tape?

HOLMAN: Well, the tape wasn't publicly available. You know, I FOIA'd this tape, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI in July, really haven't heard anything back from them. But I was able to obtain it from a source close to the Abscam investigation.

So you know, it took a little digging, of a researcher who contacted us. But he found it and ultimately we brought it to light.

But this is something that's not just hanging out there. But it is something you'd think the media would find with just a few more calls.

HANNITY: It's very clear, you know, he wasn't going to take the money now. But boy, I'm pretty interested in maybe talking to you down the road about this. By the way, if you can help these businesses in my district, that's going to be extremely helpful to me.

But the fact is the whole purpose of this was — they wanted favors, correct?

HOLMAN: Well, they didn't just want favors. They actually wanted private asylum bills for these sheiks in the Congress. And they were willing to pay $50,000, at least, apiece for that.

Although what was specifically being discussed right there was that Murtha would get a cut of the $50,000 being offered not only to him but to other congressmen.

HANNITY: Do you think this is going to have an impact on his race for re-election? I've got to imagine it would.

HOLMAN: You would think it would. Although, Sean, not many folks on the national level have been that interested in looking at this tape since we published this story Friday. It's been...

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: This comes up, just as we were talking about with the Foley issue, just before Election Day. Just as we head into a mid-term election.

You know, Mr. Holman, this is nothing more than a smear campaign. You are swift boating John Murtha, because he had the temerity to speak out against the president's policies on war, against the war, because he wants the leadership position. You would not be doing this if he were not outspoken, would you, Mr. Holman?

HOLMAN: Alan, there's not that much of a conspiracy theory here. I published this as soon as I could get it to press and confirm the tape is authentic.

COLMES: Would you even be doing this if Murtha were not as outspoken as he is and seeking a leadership position?

HOLMAN: Alan, you're missing the point here.

COLMES: That is the point.

HOLMAN: No, Alan, the point is that this man has never been asked and has never really answered...

COLMES: Would you be doing this if he were not seeking a leadership position and if he were not as outspoken about the war? Yes or no?

HOLMAN: Alan, there's no doubt that he's attracted a lot of attention to himself and he wants to exert great leadership in this country and we ought to ask him whether his office was for sale.

COLMES: So he's spoken out against a war that you support, the president you support and he wants a leadership position. You're speaking out against him. The fact is, he was not indicted. He took no money. He broke no law. Tell me what law he broke.

HOLMAN: Alan, does somebody's position on the war in Iraq give them a pass for corruption?

COLMES: Tell me what — you wouldn't be looking back 26 or 36 years were it not for his ambitions. What law did he break?

HOLMAN: He may not have broken the law. They are certainly unethical. There are many unethical things that are legal.

COLMES: I think it's a smear campaign. You're using the swift boat techniques. I really think it's shameful.

HOLMAN: Sir, this tape just came to light and the American public deserves a look at it.

COLMES: It came to light in the middle of an election campaign before mid-term elections.

HOLMAN: Should we have waited, Alan, and not given the public a chance to look at it?

HANNITY: You know something, David? Let the people in his district see the tape, each and every one of them. John Murtha.

HOLMAN: Go to Spectator.org and see it.

HANNITY: Let them see the tape themselves, and let them decide. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

HOLMAN: Thank you for having me.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2006 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.