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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

House Ethics Panel Decides Fate of Ohio Democrat

Aired July 18, 2002 - 10:09   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm just now getting word here from the Associated Press, a story coming in, evolving out of Washington, the picture you're seeing there on the right-hand side is a house ethics panel, which has been interviewing both James Traficant, who is a Congressman from Ohio, as well as other people who have been watching this case unfold. He is being brought up on ethics charges. He has been accused of using his office -- throughout the years in which he has been a member of Congress, using his office for his own personal benefit. And we have just learned according to the Associated Press, that this House panel has just found him guilty of ethics violations.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. JAMES TRAFICANT (D), OHIO: ... resolution with someone controlling time against me, gives me an opportunity for me to address the body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The leadership will set up that you need to talk to them about how they schedule it, and what you think you need for -- if it's on the floor, what you need for your presentation on the floor. So we stand...

TRAFICANT: Do we stand adjourned, or do we sit adjourned?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm told by counsel here that you need to affirm that you waive your right to appear this afternoon. If you think you might not...

TRAFICANT: You know, I'm getting tired of these legal eagles, and I don't waive a damn thing. I'm either going to be there, or I'm not, but I'm not going to officially waive it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will proceed at 2:00, whether you're there or not.

TRAFICANT: You weren't ready to go at 10:00 this morning, and I...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would encourage you to be there, and hope you would be there. TRAFICANT: I think you weren't there, because Mr. Hohchoff (ph) was out drinking coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We stand adjourned.

TRAFICANT: I sit adjourned. I may have not a seat any more, but I want the committee to know I have a great stool here.

HARRIS: Now we have only heard a bit of a snippet here, and we're only seeing just moments of Congressman Traficant's performance, if you will, perhaps this ethics panel. But he has within been a rather flamboyant character, to use a rather diplomatic term. He has often been in contempt of this hearing that's been looking at his past record there in office, and he's also been quite obstinate in his questioning. He has not cooperated, and nob been very cooperative in the process. He has said some really outrageous things, some of which cannot be repeated in mixed company, and we won't try to here.

But it appears as though his term -- or his tenure and his career as a congressman may be coming to a close fairly soon here. This hearing is going to determine whether or not he can continue as a Congressman. and it appears, according to the Associated Press, that this panel has found him guilty of ethics violations.

Some of the violations of which he has been accused, include things like basically using his office to drum up business or get free work done for him on his ranch, at his home, at his family ranch. He used his office to do many things, and he was never accused of any -- well, I shouldn't say that, but bottom line he is accused of many things, and using his office improperly.

And he made some of the most dramatic and flamboyant statements on the floor of the House as well in the past, some of which were often in no way related to whatever the topic of the moment happened to be, and it appears as though this congressman from Ohio may be looking at the end of his career there in the House.

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