What do you say when you’re defending William Jefferson, on trial for allegedly taking $100,000 in bribe money and hiding it in his freezer? Pretty much whatever the heck you can think of, writes Dana Milbank of the Washington Post. The lawyer for the then-Congressman opened his defense yesterday with a crack about “frozen assets” before arguing that his client was sleazy and stupid, but not technically guilty.
The bribes he took from a later-convicted businessman? “Kind of a finder’s fee,” in attorney Robert Trout’s telling. The FBI tape of Jefferson soliciting bribes? He’d had “a lot of wine.” His offer to bribe a Nigerian pol? “Really stupid,” Trout admitted, but a ploy to go along with the FBI informant. And Jefferson’s a self-made family man, and black besides—Trout mentioned race constantly, adding, “He loves Africa.” Especially, it seems, Nigeria.