DeLay Begins His Defense With A Big Mistake

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November 18, 2010 4:53 a.m.

Tom DeLay’s lawyers began his defense yesterday by helping prove the prosecution’s case.

DeLay, the former Republican House majority leader, is standing trial in Texas on allegations that he orchestrated a money swap. In 2002, his Texas PAC gave $190,000 in corporate money to the RNC, which then turned around and gave a total of $190,000 to seven Texas state house candidates picked by DeLay’s PAC. Under Texas law, corporate money cannot be used to fund state campaigns.The defense has argued repeatedly that DeLay was not involved in the PAC’s day-to-day operations and, as such, did not know about the swap until after the fact.

But yesterday, DeLay’s lawyer seemed to prove otherwise. According to the Houston Chronicle, his lawyer introduced scheduling calendars in an attempt to show that DeLay only had meetings with the PAC’s director, Jim Ellis, weeks after the swap happened.

But he missed something: DeLay and Ellis attended the same meeting just hours after Ellis had taken out a blank check from the PAC to give to the RNC for the swap. Prosecutors, however, pointed that out. From the Chronicle:

“I just missed that one,” DeGuerin said sheepishly afterward, noting he only had obtained the calendar on Sunday. “The (Sept. 11) meeting was with a bunch of other people.”

Prosecutors have said DeLay knew about the swap, playing as evidence the tape of an interview DeLay gave to investigators in 2005 in which he says he knew about the transaction beforehand. DeLay now says he misspoke.

DeLay contends, even as his lawyers argue that he didn’t know about the swap, that it was legal and he would have OK’d it had he known.

The trial is expected to wrap this week. According to the AP, DeLay could, if convicted, be sentenced to up to life in prison. If acquitted, DeLay says he is planning a return to politics.

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