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Congressman James Traficant Indicted by Grand Jury

Aired May 4, 2001 - 13:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with breaking news from Washington where veteran Ohio Congressman James Traficant has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Let's go to CNN's Jeanne Meserve in our Washington newsroom with more about it -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, it is a 10-count indictment against Congressman Traficant.

Kelli Arena is covering the story for us. What does the indictment say?

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jeanne, very specifically, he -- four bribery charges, two tax evasion charges, one seeking bribes, one obstruction of justice, one conspiracy to defraud the government, and one racketeering charge. So a 10-count indictment against him filed just about a half-hour ago. He should be arraigned within 10 days -- I'm sorry, 10 days to two weeks. Now he will get a summons, but he will not be arrested. That is according to the Justice Department.

MESERVE: Now, this investigation has been going on for some time and is very broad in nature.

ARENA: It is. It is. There has been a federal investigation into widespread public corruption and organized crime. It's resulted in 58 convictions so far, and that includes a former director of Traficant's district office and a former adviser of his.

There have been allegations in the press, as you know, for years against him. And he's been saying for years, "Any day now I will be indicted. Any day now, I will be indicted." So this doesn't actually come as a surprise, although, of course, when you hear it enough, you think, oh, it's never going to happen. And, today, it did happen.

MESERVE: And all of this has had an impact on his career in Congress.

ARENA: Well, it has. And as you note, he's basically alienated himself from his own party. He's been stripped of any committee participation. He voted for Dennis Hastert for speaker, much against party. So he has been alienated. But he keeps elected. MESERVE: We do have some reaction just coming in from Martin Frost, Democrat from the state of Texas, and a number of Democratic leadership. Here's what he had to say about the news of Traficant's indictment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARTIN FROST (D), TEXAS: I would hope that for Congressman Traficant's sake and for the sake of his constituents that he get a speedy trial. I would hope that this matter is resolved quickly. He's entitled to have his day in court. And the people that he represents are entitled to have a congressman who doesn't have a cloud over his head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: That was Martin Frost, Democrat from Texas, responding to this breaking news that James Traficant, Democratic Congressman from the state of Ohio, has had a 10-count indictment returned against him in federal court in Cleveland.

Kelli Arena, thanks for your input. And now we're going to go back to Atlanta.

ALLEN: All right, Jeanne, thanks.

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