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Legislative Aide Admits He Tried to Illegally Influence His Boss for Abramoff

May 9, 2006 at 6:30 PM EST
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TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER:
Judy Woodruff has our Abramoff update.

JUDY WOODRUFF, NewsHour Special
Correspondent: The list of former Jack Abramoff associates who have pleaded guilty
to criminal corruption charges has now grown to four. The latest came yesterday
when Neil Volz, a one-time chief of staff to Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney,
admitted in court that he tried illegally to influence his former boss on Abramoff’s
behalf.

Guilty pleas also have come from two former staffers of ex-Majority
Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

So where do those pleas, plus Abramoff’s own
admission of guilt back in January, take the federal investigation into the congressional
lobbying scandal? For that, we are joined by James Grimaldi of the Washington
Post, who, along with two of his colleagues, recently won a Pulitzer Prize for
their investigative reporting on Jack Abramoff.

We’re also joined by Amy
Walter from the Cook Political Report, who has been watching the election-year
fallout from the Abramoff affair and other alleged congressional misdeeds.

Amy Walter, James Grimaldi, thank you both.

State of the investigation

JUDY WOODRUFF: James, to you first. With this latest guilty plea, where does this leave the whole Abramoff investigation?

JAMES GRIMALDI, The Washington Post: Well, as we reported last fall, we think there are at least a half-dozen lawmakers who may still be under scrutiny. And with every additional Abramoff aide who comes into the picture and pleads guilty, you may have the possibility of even more lawmakers.

You don't know what deals or what schemes those particular people who have pled might be able to provide information to the government in order to just sort of build on the case. So, you know, in many ways, we're just getting close to the end of the beginning when it comes to the Abramoff scandal.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What makes you and others think that other members of Congress may be involved?

JAMES GRIMALDI: Well, when you look at the records, the people who have been subpoenaed, some of the e-mails that have been released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and many of the stories that we investigated last year, we see that there are up to half-a-dozen people.

We've named some of them in some of our stories, and we've talked to many of the lawmakers' lawyers. We know that they've subpoenaed certain pieces of information, so we gather it from the public record largely and through interviews.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mostly Republicans? Some Democrats?

JAMES GRIMALDI: In the Abramoff case right now, we only know of Republicans. There is certainly a potential for Democrats.

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