Video: The Abramoff case

msnbc.com
updated 11/23/2005 4:42:09 PM ET 2005-11-23T21:42:09

Today in an effort to get his political career back on track, Tom DeLay was in a Texas court seeking to get charges of conspiracy and money laundering dismissed.  The judge said he would not rule on the case immediately, and that ended DeLay's hopes of regaining his former position of the House majority leader any time soon. 

This comes just one day after DeLay's former top aide Michael Scanlon pled guilty to charges of conspiracy.  He is cooperating with authorities and many suspect that this will help the government build their case against his former partner and another DeLay confidante, Jack Abramoff. 

Jack Abramoff was once Washington's most powerful Republican lobbyist.  But now his former partner Scanlon has pled guilty in a case that threatens to explode into one of the biggest scandals in congressional history. 

“This is a scandal that could reverberate over the next couple of years and implicate many members of Congress, top administration officials and major outside political operatives,” said Norm Ornstein, a Congressional expert of the American Enterprise Institute.  

Prosecutors charged Scanlon with conspiring with Abramoff to defraud Indian tribes of millions of dollars and then bribe government officials, including a member of Congress, Republican Bob Ney of Ohio. 

“There’s a good possibility given at least the relationship that we have seen so far in the press, I think there’s a good possibility that Scanlon knows everything that Abramoff knows,” according to Lawrence Barcella, a Washington Defense attorney.  “And if that's the case, then to the extent that there are bodies buried, he knows where every one of them likely is.” 

Abramoff has not yet been charged in the case. 

But along with Scanlon, the fees paid to Abramoff were extraordinary — $82 million in four years from the Indian tribes, earning Abramoff the nickname “Casino Jack”. 

Documents also show he asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of Gabon in West Africa to set up a meeting with President Bush. 

Abramoff and his friends are some of the biggest players in the conservative revolution.  Former House majority leader Tom DeLay once called Abramoff one of his closest and dearest friends. 

Others touched by the investigation include Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed, anti-tax guru Grover Norquist, and Republican Congressman John Doolittle, whose wife worked with Abramoff. 

At the White House, the former procurement officer David Safavian was indicted for lying about his ties to Abramoff. 

Federal investigators are said to be looking at half a dozen members of Congress, former and current Hill aides, as well as people who worked in the Interior Department. 

Republicans in Washington remain worried that a big trial in the Abramoff case may add to the Democrats` argument that the GOP is breeding this culture of corruption.

Watch 'Hardball' each night at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 

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