Murtha also waved off concerns over his role in ABSCAM. "I had 24 percent unemployment, I was looking at investment," said the lawmaker, justifying why he negotiated with undercover FBI agents trying to buy legislative favors in 1979. "I told them I wanted an investment in my district, they put $50,000 out on the table. I said Iâm not interested in that, Iâm interested in investment.
"The ethics committee cleared me completely, unanimous vote," he said. In fact, an independent prosecutor hired by the committee was not allowed to investigate evidence against Murtha; the prosecutor resigned in protest.
Murtha also criticized the FBI for raiding the office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), who is in the middle of his own bribery investigation. "[I]tâs not fair to go into congressional offices without going through the Speaker of the House, without going to the minority leader," he said. "This is a breech of the separation of powers."