Friday, October 07, 2005

Did Fox News provide new evidence against Tom DeLay?

Today’s Washington Post details information about a meeting between Tom DeLay and one of his alleged co-conspirators on October 2, 2002, the same day the Republican National State Committee authorized checks for Texas Republicans that “coincided” with payments received from TRMPAC.

They note a difference between DeLay’s explanation of that meeting and the explanation provided Jim Ellis. DeLay’s explanation came from the “Exclusive” Fox News Sunday interview:

DeLay and Ellis have so far given slightly different accounts of the substance of their discussion. Ellis's attorney, Jonathan D. Pauerstein, said that Ellis recalls that their Oct. 2 discussion did not concern or involve Texas or Texas candidates. But DeLay, interviewed last weekend on "Fox News Sunday," said that during a "scheduling meeting" with Ellis in October, Ellis said while they were leaving his office that "by the way, we sent money" to Washington.

I watched that program. In fact, I Tivo’d it because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Attorneys representing people under investigation in high profile cases almost always advise their clients to refuse public comment on matters relating to their actions, especially if the person has been interviewed by authorities or have given a written statement. The reason for that advice is that investigators will review your statements in the media, and any quotes to see if there are any inconsistencies or new information. It also provides the prosecution and investigators additional information to use in questioning other parties in the investigation. In other words, anything you say in the media can be used against you – even if it is a misquote.

In Tom DeLay’s case, there have already been “mis-statements” that his attorneys had to correct. And, though not under oath, DeLay had already met with prosecutors and answered questions.

Beside’s DeLay’s acknowledgment that he had been told of the transfer of funds to RNSEC, the Fox News interview also included a rather interesting exchange about the alleged list of names given to the RNC with the check outlining which candidate should get the funds.

Chris Wallace: “If they sent a 190-thousand dollar check with banned corporate money, banned to go to state races and sent that along with a list of seven candidates and give this one 20 and this one 10-thousand dollars isn’t that in effect a form of money laundering? You’re taking money that’s banned from state races and funneling it through the Republican National Committee to get it back to the Texas state candidates?

DeLay: “It hasn’t been proved that there was a list provided along with the check.”

“let’s say there was a list”

DeLay: “I can’t speculate. All I know is John Colyandro and Jim Ellis did everything with lawyers checking and accountants checking everything. All these organizations have lawyers watching this money to make sure that it is raised properly and legally and that it is dispensed properly and legally.”

I’ve transcribed this because DeLay’s answer seemed odd. He didn’t deny that a list existed; he said that it hasn’t been proved that a list was provided along with the check. For a man who professed that he didn’t know what his alleged co-conspirators did, he seems pretty certain that there wasn’t a list with the check. That list exists, and Ronnie Earle has it. He’s referenced it in the indictment. At issue, and possibly crucial to the case, is how the list was delivered to RNSEC.

The Fox News Sunday program aired the day before Earle asked the third grand jury for an indictment. Earle maintained after the indictment that he had received new evidence over the weekend. A statement that DeLay’s attorneys ridiculed.

Between the acknowledging that he was told of the $190,000 check and exhibition of some familiarity with information transmitted with the check, Delay may have provided the new evidence himself.

Today’s Washington Times may have even more “evidence for prosecutors.”

I think it is time for Republicans and Conservatives to recognize that Tom DeLay hurts them more than helps them. And it is time to move forward without his shadow. The Democrats love having Tom DeLay hanging around the Republican Party’s collective neck like an albatross.