This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 29, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And earlier this month the always unpredictable James Traficant was released from a Minnesota prison. Now the former Ohio congressman served a seven-year prison sentence for bribery and racketeering. But he is back out, and tonight he makes his return to the show.
And joining us now is former Congressman James Traficant.
Congressman, seven years in prison. That's not a fun experience. Welcome back to the program.
JAMES TRAFICANT, FORMER OHIO CONGRESSMAN: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me back from. From what I understand after seven years, your program has gotten much stronger, so I feel honored to be here tonight.
HANNITY: Well, all right. Thank you.
TRAFICANT: Honored to be anywhere. I'm glad — hey, Sean, I'm glad to be anywhere.
HANNITY: Well, I believe that. You actually said that you thought — you said this to me in an interview that you thought you would die in prison. Well, you don't look much different than you did seven years ago.
TRAFICANT: No — well, thank you. What did you expect, me to be wearing prison stripes or something? No, what I said and what I meant was I believe from the length of the sentence that I received I think they were hoping that it was a death sentence, that I wouldn't come back, and be looking a camera in the eye just like this on a very popular show like yours.
So I didn't mean that they — that I felt I was going to be killed, although I was in some situations that were tentative at times.
HANNITY: Well, I can believe that and I'm sure nobody wants to go to prison. Why don't you, for people that don't know — I mean, here you're one of the most controversial congressmen, powerful congressmen in Washington, D.C., known for fiery —
TRAFICANT: Don't call me names, don't call me names.
HANNITY: All right. Known for fiery speeches on the House floor. And then your life changes. Then you're sent off to jail for seven years. What was your day like, your average day like in prison, and you know, what was it like psychologically for you?
TRAFICANT: Sean, I really don't want to go back and revisit those experiences.
HANNITY: Well, that's important, though.
TRAFICANT: But let me — just let me tell you this. I forfeited the future life to make sure that I survived. I'm mad as hell. There's no doubt about it. And I'm looking to get back at the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service, and I predict before it's over that I will. I want to get them right by the short hairs. That's how mad I am.
HANNITY: All right, now, so you are going to try and prove your innocence, say you were wrongly convicted.
TRAFICANT: I don't need to prove I'm innocent. I don't need to prove I'm innocent.
TRAFICANT: I believe there's enough happening now with this fellow — with Mr. Okolo (ph) over in Nigeria who submitted an affidavit to the Nigerian government and said my life was ruined, because I wouldn't perjure myself for the Justice Department against trafficking.
Now all of these revelations are coming forward. You stay tuned. You're going to see them and you're going to be surprised before it's over.
HANNITY: All right. I'm going to stay tuned. We're going to watch it. But let me go back to this other question and then we'll move forward. What was your life like on a daily basis when you go from being a powerful congressman to ending up in a daily routine in jail? What was that like for you?
TRAFICANT: I was just like any other inmate, any other convict, and I did what I had to do to survive. And while you brought that up, I want to say hello to Dre Maddox, Freddy McKnight and a bunch of young guys up there in Rochester.
And I believe our country is so screwed up, Nelson Mandela said, Sean, if you really want to see the true character of a nation, you've got to go through their prisons, and, boy, I have.
HANNITY: Are you going to run for office again?
TRAFICANT: I'm not sure yet. I'm looking at it. One way I can get back at the Justice Department, the IRS, is to be a sitting member of Congress, and I may. I have to look at it. I have no money. I don't expect to raise any money. I never did raise money. I've never supported by any political party nor the newspapers, so I'd have to run against everybody.
HANNITY: Well, and it wouldn't surprise me.
TRAFICANT: And I just may do that.
HANNITY: I bet — there's probably a few nervous congressmen in your district right now, or in and around your area, in Youngstown.
Congressman, you said something in an interview with our own Greta Van Susteren. You and I got into this on my radio show, and I am shocked, frankly disappointed. And these remarks sound like the conspiratorial, anti-Semitic remarks of people that we have heard from over the years. And what you said was, quote, talking about Israel and, quote, "Jewish people they're controlling much of our foreign policy, they're influencing much of our domestic policy."
What do you mean by that? Because that sounds to me like a bizarre conspiracy theory. Why would you say something like that when it's, first of all, patently untrue?
TRAFICANT: Number one, I served in Congress for 17 years. I've seen members question bills and votes on how does Israel feel about this? I must have heard that every time there was a significant vote. Here's what I'm saying. I'm not an enemy of Israel.
America supports Israel, and we should. They're a free nation. They're our friends amidst the cluster of dictators and monarchs. So certainly I support Israel. But Israel, through its lobby, has manifested so much power over the United States Congress, that we're embroiled in wars that I don't believe we should be.
Our kids are coming back in body bags. And in the long run this Israeli lobby is going to hurt Israel. So as soon as you mention Israel, someone claims you're an anti-Semite.
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HANNITY: No, no, no.
TRAFICANT: The truth of the matter is.
HANNITY: No, that's not what happened here.
TRAFICANT: . I'm pro-American, Sean. And I don't know — I don't like —
HANNITY: I'm pro-American, too.
TRAFICANT: Hear me. Hear me.
HANNITY: I'm listening.
TRAFICANT: I don't like what's happening in America today.
HANNITY: All right. That's fair.
TRAFICANT: Our kids are coming back in body bags.
HANNITY: Wait a minute, but you're saying —
TRAFICANT: And we're bankrupt, completely broke.
HANNITY: But you're suggesting here that we're fighting wars on behalf of Israel, but you just mentioned the 9/11 attacks.
TRAFICANT: I think —
HANNITY: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
TRAFICANT: I think a lot of that has been influenced by Israel.
HANNITY: Hear me now, Congressman. We're not fighting the war. We didn't fight the war in Iraq. We're not fighting in Afghanistan for Israel. We're fighting because this country was attacked because the 9/11 Commission Report said there's a group of enemies against us that are fighting a war against us and we're not at war with them.
So we're fighting them because they killed 3,000-plus Americans. That's why we're fighting. It has nothing to do with Israel.
TRAFICANT: All right. Let me respond to that. We're in a situation where the commission come out and they discussed the attack on America. There's no doubt about it. But our policies in the Mideast have been so one-sided and subjective, without objectivity, we've created so many enemies the only way we can strike back is we've imported the terrorists from those actions.
HANNITY: Congressman, wait a minute.
TRAFICANT: So if you're questioning it you're saying you're anti-Semite.
HANNITY: No, that's not what you did. That's not what you said.
TRAFICANT: Whoa. Whoa.
HANNITY: You said they're controlling our foreign policy, they're controlling our domestic policy.
TRAFICANT: Yes, I believe they are.
HANNITY: Hear me now.
TRAFICANT: I believe they control the Senate and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
HANNITY: That's insane.
TRAFICANT: And they're controlling our foreign policy.
HANNITY: That's — Congressman, that's conspiratorial.
TRAFICANT: Well, that your opinion.
HANNITY: Conspiratorial nut-job stuff.
TRAFICANT: No. It has nothing to do with conspiracy.
HANNITY: Wait a minute. Are we supposed to be friends with Syria? Are we supposed to be friends with Iran? Are we supposed to be friends with Saddam Hussein?
TRAFICANT: I never said that.
HANNITY: Hezbollah, Hamas?
TRAFICANT: Hold it. Hold it, Sean.
HANNITY: Well, you said we're only friends with Israel.
TRAFICANT: Sean, I know you need ratings. I know you need ratings, but just hold it.
HANNITY: I have ratings.
TRAFICANT: I'm not saying we should be friends over there with anybody. I'm saying we should be objective. We have developed serious enemies from a one-sided policy. And, yes, I believe Israel, through their lobby, has manifested total power of the Congress of the United States.
HANNITY: Total power? Total power?
TRAFICANT: And my concern is the taxpayers and the citizens of the United States should control their government, not a foreign entity.
HANNITY: To suggest, as you're doing here tonight, that they control our Congress, that, quote, "They are influencing and the — sole control and influencing of our domestic policy," is an absurdity. It sounds like you are a kook.
TRAFICANT: Sean, I'm not suggesting it, I'm telling it. Yes. I believe they manifest a great power over America. Let me also say in the last four years there were two separate incidents of AIPAC spying on America. We even conducted a search warrant on AIPAC headquarters.
Now, I don't like what's going on here. All I'm telling you is I'm concerned about America. You and I might disagree.
I'm not an anti-Semite, I'm not against Israel. And if Israel is attacked, I'm the first one to want to support them. But what I'm saying to you that this power that is being manifest on our Congress is going to backfire and it's going to ends up in the long run hurting Israel.
HANNITY: Let me say this.
TRAFICANT: ... because the American people are getting about fed up with this government.
HANNITY: One last shot at this. Will you back down from, quote, "They are controlling much of our foreign policy"? Will you back off that statement?
TRAFICANT: No, I don't.
HANNITY: All right. Then we disagree.
Congressman, thanks for being with us.
TRAFICANT: Good to be on your show.
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