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Abramoff: Gingrich's Involvement With Freddie Mac Is "Corruption"

Jack Abramoff talks to David Gregory.

David Gregory, "Meet the Press" moderator: The transparency of government is still an issue, it's an issue on the campaign trail. Newt Gingrich, the former speaker, is now caught up in this with Freddie Mac, the large housing giant now controlled by the government. He claimed he got $300,000 to be a consultant to them. Bloomberg's reporting it was well over $1 million providing strategic counseling. What do you make of all that?

Jack Abramoff: Well this is exactly what I'm talking about. People who come to Washington who have public service, and they cash in on it. And they use their public service and their access to make money, and unfortunately Newt Gingrich is one of them who’s done it. But far too many of them do it and one of the reforms that I propose in my book is to close permanently the door, the revolving door, between public service and cashing in as a lobbyist.

GREGORY: And I’ll ask you more specifically about that in a moment, but let me stick with Gingrich because, of course, you're operating at a time there where he's in power. Is there more to even the Gingrich era that he was part of that will become a bigger part of this campaign debate and should it?

ABRAMOFF: Well I don't know if he'll survive this, to be honest with you, this is a very big thing. In fact --

GREGORY: Why?

ABRAMOFF: Because he is doing, and engaging in the exact kind of corruption that America disdains. The very things that anger the Tea Party movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement and everybody who is not in a movement and watches Washington and says, “Why are these guys getting all this money? Why do they go become so rich? Why do they have these advantages?” Unfortunately, Newt seems to have played right into it.

GREGORY: You call that corruption though? That's a heavy charge.

ABRAMOFF: Yes, indeed. Well, what is it? It is corruption. At the end of the day, I say in the book, I believe now, although I didn't believe then unfortunately, that any provision of favor or any provision of anything to members of Congress and their staff is bribery. And any cashing in on it by them coming out later is corruption.

GREGORY: And he-- you would make the case that he's cashing in as a former speaker being able to get that kind of contract.

ABRAMOFF: I know he says that they paid him as a historian to give him a historic lesson, but, but I'm unaware of any history professor being paid that sort of money to give someone a history lesson.

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