Updated 4:04 p.m.
Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said he doesn't know why it took the Justice Department six years to end its investigation into his ties to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but called it a "happy day" and said he has no regrets about his conduct.
"He never asked me to do anything untoward, and nor did I do anything untoward or unethical," DeLay said in a conference call with reporters. Earlier today, DeLay's lawyer, Richard Cullen, chairman of McGuireWoods, said the Justice Department had told DeLay's lawyers that the investigation was over. The news was first reported by Politico. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment, citing the department's policy of not commenting on investigations.
DeLay said that he was never interviewed by investigators, and was not asked to testify before a grand jury, though he stressed that he turned over documents, allowed investigators to look at his computers and instructed aides to cooperate. In fact, he said his team "had no contact from the Department of Justice for well over a year and a half, so I don't know what they were doing." DeLay said that in June, after former Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) was told he was no longer under investigation, DeLay's lawyers began inquiring about the status of the case against him.
"I think my lawyers got a little more intensive in the last month trying to get something out of the Department of Justice, and they finally said the case was closed," he said.
DeLay, who resigned from Congress in 2006 and now works as a consultant with his own firm in Texas, is still facing a trial there on state charges tied to campaign donations. He said there will be a hearing in that case next week. He also rejected past ethics charges against him, describing his behavior as "aboveboard" and "transparent."
In a separate interview, DeLay's lawyer, McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen, said DeLay's defense strategy was to cooperate as much as possible. "It was a real treat to represent a client who, first of all, was convinced he had done absolutely nothing wrong. And after our own analysis of the facts and the law, we concurred with that, and so that led us to a strategy," he said.
Cullen confirmed that DeLay never met with investigators. "I can only surmise, because they were very thorough, that they didn't have leads that they needed his explanation on," he said.
Cullen is not representing DeLay on the state charges.