December 5th, 2007
06:29 PM ET
15 years ago

Lott: Not retiring because of brother-in-law's indictment

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Retiring Sen. Trent Lott said Wednesday his sudden departure from Capitol Hill after 35 years has nothing to do with the bribery indictment of his brother-in-law, famed trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, which was handed down two days after Lott said he would leave the Senate.

"I had no idea it was coming," said Lott.

In an interview just off the Senate floor, Lott, who was just re-elected to a fourth term but who will leave it five years early, said rumors are swirling about why he's leaving.

"Those are the same people who said Trent Lott must have health problem. No, he's got a sex problem. No, he's got a financial problem. Oh no, it's connected to his brother-in-law," Lott said. "None of the above."

In fact, Lott says he called Scruggs after the indictment and ribbed him for stealing the limelight just after Lott made his highly publicized announcement that he was moving to the private sector.

"That's the kind of relationship we have. He's a typical brother-in-law.

They're a pain in the neck but they're your brother-in-law. They're married to your wife's sister," he said chuckling.

On a more serious note, Lott said he was "not surprised" that one associate of Scruggs pleaded guilty Wednesday in the case that involves the attempted bribery of a Mississippi judge who was ruling on a dispute between lawyers over millions in attorneys fees from a Katrina-related law suit against State Farm Insurance.

The attorney who pleaded guilty, Timothy Balducci, was accused of bringing thousands of dollars to the judge on behalf of Scruggs in order to win a favorable ruling in the case. The judge had alerted law enforcement about the attempted bribes and was wearing an FBI wire.

But Lott said he assumes Scruggs will be found innocent and suspects he might have been set up.

"This guy doesn't need the money. He's too smart for this. The couple of people with him, they wouldn't do that." Lott said. "It's probably a set-up, in my opinion

The senator said he hasn't discussed the details of the case with Scruggs, in part, because, "I assume his phones are tapped."

- CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Greg, Houston

    yeah right. What else is he hiding??? Good riddance.

    December 5, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  2. Dave, Evergreen CO

    I believe him. He's retiring so he can make a truck load of money lobbying.

    December 5, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  3. Terry, El Paso, TX

    There is no bad reason for Trent Lott to leave public life.

    December 5, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  4. Dave, Houston, TX

    Oh, Greg, my fellow Houstonian, Lott's quick departure is much more innocent than that. Y'see, on Jan 1, there is a new law that takes effect that makes senators and congressmen wait two years before they can start raking in the BIG BUCKS as lobbyists.

    It's not that his brother-in-law is a crook (allegedly), but he just wants his money NOW, not in two years.

    December 5, 2007 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  5. Lee, Landing NJ

    Yeah, believe that. It's great that Trent can just call and "rib" with his brither-in-law about the criminal indictment. It's the kind of stuff apparantly they can joke about. Imagine that.
    He's asking you to believe it. If you are a loyal republican you might, and you might believe that Republican Senator Vitter only called a hooker and never actually went to one, and that Republican Senator Larry Craig is not gay and doesn't look for anonymous male sex in public bathrooms, and that George Bush and his republican enablers have not been the biggest disaster we've faced since the civil war.
    The Republican voter has to be "faith based".

    December 5, 2007 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  6. Willy, Chesapeake, VA

    What Captial Hill, Congress, Washington, D.C. needs so badly is an enima!

    December 5, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  7. P.D. Bristol, PA

    Do I, or any other American believe that Senator Lott didn't see this coming? I think that this is a watershed moment for the GOP. I honestly think that this may be the end of our beloved country. The religious right and their big corporation buddies have lain waste to this country. We, as Americans must pay attention before we decide to elect another president who we would like to have a beer with.

    December 6, 2007 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  8. Sam, IA

    Trent Lott knows what the hordes of Republican senators announcing thier return to the private sector know. His butt would be handed to him on a platter if he ran.
    Our own Chuck Grassley has gone from changing bancruptcy laws so Donald Trump can declare bankrupcy but Donald Sixpack becomes an endentured servant for life if a financial catastophy stikes him to the guy who is siccing the IRS on evangelicals.
    I expect him to set up a treehugging photo-op and admit global warming is real at any time.

    December 6, 2007 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  9. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    Lott has already indicated his reason for retiring. He wants to become a lobbyist.

    December 6, 2007 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  10. David, Tallahassee, Florida

    You see! If Strom Thurman had been elected president back in 1948, none of this would be happening.

    December 6, 2007 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  11. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    And we are supposed to believe that he didnt know that the indcitment was coming down? Oh please, if you believe that.....

    December 6, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  12. demwit

    Another brother or brother-in-law making beer perhaps??

    December 6, 2007 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  13. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    He was just tapping his feet and reaching for the toilet paper, and besides he takes a wide stance.

    December 6, 2007 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  14. Joe G, Washington, DC

    Lott is a crook who is just hopping over to the other side of the fence. As a lobbyist, he will continue to sell out our country until we are no better than a third world toilet like Sudan.

    December 6, 2007 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  15. Raymond, El Paso TX

    The people elect him and he quits on them. Seems like the party that came up with "cut and run" sure has gotten good at it!

    December 6, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  16. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    I find the fact that the man wore an FBI wire, and that a federal indictment came down on serious charges, and that lott and his brother in law find humor in that, a little disturbing.
    I would say that lott suddenly retired because he may not have known this indictment was coming down, but he had a feeling it was. and why won't lott call his brother in law even if his phone is tapped? what is it that they both think one may say that is incriminating?

    December 7, 2007 10:35 am at 10:35 am |