Traficant criticizes Congress but not Obama on ‘Hardball’

The ex-congressman called Congress ‘a big whorehouse.’

By David Skolnick

YOUNGSTOWN — James A. Traficant Jr. played “Hardball” during an interview on MSNBC, but the questions asked of the former congressman were more of the softball variety.

During the 11-minute interview, “Hardball” host Chris Matthews asked only a few questions, including one already asked several times by others: “Are you running for office again?”

“You never know, I may,” Traficant responded Wednesday.

Traficant spoke about several of the same topics he’s discussed since his Sept. 2 release from a federal prison after serving a sentence of seven years and one month.

Those topics included the elimination of the IRS and going to a flat-tax system, the trade deficit, that he was “targeted by the Justice Department since 1983,” and the plight of retired Delphi salaried workers who are facing the loss of their retirement and health-care benefits.

Matthews made a few statements when talking to Traficant.

In one case, he said, “You sound like a Republican.”

In response, Traficant said, “If it’s good for America, I support it. This is the problem in Washington. Too many of these people walk like little lemmings over the cliff with so-called leaders. Chris, I’ve got to tell you something. I’ve never seen such weak leadership [in Congress] in my life.”

Traficant, of Poland, described Congress as a “big whorehouse.”

But he was respectful of President Barack Obama.

“As far as Obama’s concerned, I tell these TEA [Taxed Enough Already] Party groups, ‘Hey, look I don’t think you should be going after President Obama. I think his hands are pretty much tied. I think his heart’s in the right place.’”

Traficant has also appeared on cable television news shows on Fox News and CNN.

Traficant, expelled from the U.S. House after more than 17 years as a congressman, was found guilty in April 2002 on 10 felony convictions including racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

Matthews asked if Traficant was “in any way guilty as charged.”

“No, I was not guilty ... in any way, in any way,” Traficant responded.

Traficant claimed that “four of the seven people who testified against me now it’s come out that they lied.”

There were more than seven people who were defense witnesses and none have publicly stated they lied during Traficant’s 2002 corruption case.

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