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Hannity

Cable Exclusive: Jack Abramoff Tells All After Fall From Grace

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 7, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: He was America's ultimate political insider until a highly publicized corruption scandal sent him to jail and took down a number of the nation's most powerful and influential lawmakers.

Now in 2006, Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery charges related to a scheme in which he swindled American-Indian clients, manipulated public officials and pocketed tens of millions for himself and his business partner, a former communications director for former House majority leader and Texas Congressman Tom Delay.

Now, after serving 43 months in prison, Abramoff is opening up about his fall from grace and exposing the mysterious and crooked world that is American politics

In his brand new autobiography, Abramoff argues that while his ordeal may have changed federal lobbying laws, the system is still far from fixed. "Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Notorious Lobbyist." It hit book shelves today.

Joining me now in cable exclusive is the man himself, Jack Abramoff. I

You know it's funny, I keep reading, Abramoff, Abramoff, Abramoff. You're the subject of all these commercials. I never met you until today.

JACK ABRAMOFF, "CAPITOL PUNISHMENT": Right, that's true.

HANNITY: Look, I read your book. It's interesting to me because it seems like you -- it's very interesting to me because maybe it's human nature. You didn't seem to understand what you were doing at the time was wrong, but now you think in hindsight it was horrible.

ABRAMOFF: Right. I think that when I was in the middle of being a lobbyist in the middle of that whole system I lost of sight of where the line in the sand was. And unfortunately that happens in life and I paid the price for it.

HANNITY: You said it was a perfectly corrupt arrangement. So you got for -- and I watched you with Leslie Stall last night. You felt you had 100 congressional offices in your pocket.

ABRAMOFF: Yes.

HANNITY: Hundred, you owned them, to use your words.

ABRAMOFF: There were 100 offices. I had a team of lobbyists who worked for me and probably a little more than 100 offices, frankly.

HANNITY: You spent over a million dollars on concerts and sporting events to give free tickets to congressmen, senators, et cetera, and their families, a million dollars a year.

You paid for private jets for them or your clients did. You took them on junkets and played golf all around the world. I mean, you didn't see that as corrupt at that time?

ABRAMOFF: I should have. I should have. It was wrong. I didn't. I'm shamed about that and I can't unring the bell. I did what I did. I fell from where I was. I went to prison. I've been punished and I'm trying now to make some recompense by talking about it.

HANNITY: What do you think -- I mean, we've been talking about a lot about Solyndra, $532 million, $1.2 billion with Sun Power, a total of $35 billion in green energy.

In many of these cases, you got big bundlers, people donating huge money for the president, in this case Obama. They get access to the White House, and then companies that they're supporting get all this money.

ABRAMOFF: Right.

HANNITY: Is that the same thing?

ABRAMOFF: Exactly the same thing, exactly the process.

HANNITY: They're buying taxpayer money and they're getting kickbacks, basically.

ABRAMOFF: Yes. That's going on throughout the system. It's rife. Many, many congressional offices participate in things like that. The administration, I guess, at certain levels is doing the same thing. That's a problem for this country.

HANNITY: Well, I mean, you even said in the book that, you know, they can change the laws, but you laughed because you knew you'd find way around the laws. They even changed it since.

ABRAMOFF: Right. They don't really change the laws in the way they have to be changed. They'll tinker with them. They'll have some reforms so they're able to pat themselves on the back and point to a few rogue lobbyists such as myself that were caught and then declare that the system is clean, but it's not clean.

HANNITY: You seem to say that your strategy and tactic that you used was pretty standard. You'd get to the chief of staff, you get to high-ranking people in these offices. And you'd say after you went on golf outings and sort of lured them into your web, when you're done here, I got a job. You come work for us.

ABRAMOFF: Right.

HANNITY: And at that moment what happened?

ABRAMOFF: At that moment they started working for us. The minute they heard there was an interest in somebody to hire them. They started thinking about where they were going to go next.

HANNITY: You had to know what you were doing, knowing human nature.

ABRAMOFF: Sure.

HANNITY: The political business is not stable. These guys have families. They've got jobs that they may lose. When somebody says you lose your job, you come to me.

ABRAMOFF: Right.

HANNITY: Of course, they're going to do everything they can because they're thinking of their future. You knew what you were doing.

ABRMOFF: Right. I mean, what I was doing was tryin to win for my clients. I was trying to do everything I could to win the battles I was in. Just like other lobbyists do and just like anybody does in that arena.

The problem is that a human being who is competitive like I was is going to do that, and the system allows that, unfortunately. They bandage a few things here and there, but the truth is they need to do something much more.

HANNITY: How does 43 months in prison -- because you seem contrite unless you're a total used car salesman that wants to sell me a broken down car and hide it. I don't know. You seem pretty contrite. What does 43 months in prison do to a person like yourself that was living the high life. You were a millionaire.

ABRAMOFF: Well, it brings you down low. It destroys you in many ways.

HANNITY: Do you think you're destroyed?

ABRAMOFF: Well, I think that person who was me is destroyed and maybe that's a good thing, and a different person I think rose up from within that experience.

HANNITY: If you were going to change the system, what would it be?

ABRAMOFF: Two things. One, close the revolving door between government and private sector that services the government, the lobbyists. And number two, make it so you can't give money politically if you're going to get a benefit from the government, either grant or a contract or anything like that.

HANNITY: No jets, no tickets.

ABRAMOFF: Nothing.

HANNITY: No gifts.

ABRAMOFF: Not a pencil, not peanut, nothing.

HANNITY: Not a drink, not a meal. It's amazing how many people want free stuff and don't want to pay for their own things, isn't it?

All right, Jack, it's a fascinating insider story, scary for people that pay the bill, the taxpayers that have to pay that. Appreciate you being with us.

ABRAMOFF: Thank you, Sean.

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