The truth vs. Tom DeLay

DeLay suggests that he was indicted without getting a chance to tell his side of the story first. His lawyer says that's not how it happened.

Published September 30, 2005 4:19PM (EDT)

When Tom DeLay appeared on "Hardball" this week, he complained about the unfairness of the grand jury process that led to his indictment. "You know, grand juries, it's all one-sided," DeLay said. "It is all what [the prosecutor] presents to the grand jury, how he spins, how he presents it." DeLay said that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has had him under a cloud for two years while "never talking to me, never talking to me, never asking me to testify."

It's a good story for someone who could use a little sympathy just now. It just happens not to be true.

As the Houston Chronicle reports today, Earle met with DeLay in August and asked him questions about the case then. One of DeLay's lawyers tells the Chronicle that Earle told DeLay then, "'This grand jury is ready to indict you.'" And the grand jury's foreman, William M. Gibson Jr., says that while the grand jury never subpoenaed DeLay, the House majority leader had an open invitation to appear before it.

We can't blame DeLay for not accepting that invitation. It's almost always a bad idea for a target of an investigation to appear before a grand jury: You go into that room without a lawyer at your side, and it's awfully easy to get yourself into trouble even as you think you're talking your way out of it. But declining an invitation is different from denying that one ever existed, and suggesting that you haven't talked with the district attorney is different from admitting that you have. Tom DeLay has crossed the line, again.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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