11/18/2010 02:10 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Justice "DeLayed" Doesn't Have to Mean Justice Denied


The Tom DeLay money laundering trial is coming to a close in Austin, Texas. Comeuppance is nigh.

To recap: The Lone Star State bans corporate contributions to candidates. In 2002, DeLay's political action committee, Texans For A Republican Majority, sent a check for $190,000 in corporate-raised money to the Republican National Committee. Within days, the RNC delivered that dollar amount in non-corporate money to seven Texas candidates chosen by DeLay's PAC.

These facts are not in dispute, and Travis County prosecutors contend this is money laundering 101. If I take $100 of your illegal drug money, put it in my right pocket and then give you $100 from my left pocket, we've both engaged in the same thing; money laundering. Seems simple enough.

DeLay contends, however, that it isn't criminal because -- get this -- the money from my left pocket wasn't drug money! "It's different money," his high-powered lawyer has claimed repeatedly with a barely straight face. Never mind that it's the dictionary definition of the crime, that's their position.

The former House majority leader also insists he didn't know what his underlings were doing until the deal was already arranged, although evidence at trial, including his own recorded interview with prosecutors in '05, strongly says otherwise.

In any event, DeLay couldn't help crowing to a reporter during a hallway break in the trial just last week. "I probably could have stopped it {the money swap}, but why would I?" he said, adding that everybody does it, anyway.

That new tape became the final piece of evidence against him before the prosecution rested after two weeks. The defense is expected to present a short, one-day case of its own, with final arguments slated for Monday. Needless to say, the accused will not be testifying on his own behalf.

The Justice Department decided in August not to pursue a federal indictment against DeLay in the matter of Jack Abramoff, the convicted Washington lobbyist with Republican ties. A pity, yet Texas now has one last shot at a piece of "The Hammer's" hide.

Here's looking at you, kid. Hopefully, those moves you learned on Dancing With The Stars will come in handy down river.

CORRECTION: DeLay's previous congressional title as been changed in this piece to House majority leader.