Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), the Staten Island politician facing federal fraud charges, is being prosecuted and feeling persecuted.
“There’s no question: I’ve been vilified by the press since the day I got here,” Grimm told Politico on Tuesday during a sit-down interview at a diner in Brooklyn, N.Y. “From the very beginning they had to figure out how to get rid of this guy.”
Following two years of investigation, federal prosecutors unsealed their case against Grimm last month. The charges against him — which include wire and mail fraud, helping prepare false tax returns, and perjury — stem from Grimm’s time running a restaurant called Healthalicious on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. And while Grimm admitted to Politico that the 20-count indictment filed against him was a “serious” matter worthy of media coverage, he argued that his constituents are “behind me now more than ever,” and “yet the press focuses on the most ridiculous nonsense that I can dream about. Look, I’ll sum it up. What do I think of the press? I think, right now, and it’s been this way for two years: If I pass a burning building, and I stop and I run in and I save a baby, you know what the headline will be? ‘Grimm starts the fire.’ That’s just the reality.”
Politico’s Alex Isenstadt asked Grimm if he was innocent of the charges against him. The Congressman paused, and chuckled.
“You know, uh. It depends on what you’re asking me of,” he said. “But I’ll tell you this… what I’m guilty of is trying the hardest and giving 100 percent of myself and putting my heart and soul into representing the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn. But I do believe when all is said and done, I will be exonerated and I think the people that supported me will be proud that they did.”
Grimm has not relinquished his seat, and is still running for reelection. But the Republican Party has backed off its support, and his only full-time campaign staffer has already bailed.
“The speaker’s gonna have to do what he’s gonna have to do politically,” Grimm said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). “And I respect that. And whatever decision the NRCC or the party as a whole makes for political reasons, I have no problem with it.”
Read the whole thing here.