Abramoff Scandal

Interview: It's hard to tell whether Jack Abramoff is that sorry





"The notorious former lobbyist and convicted felon is on a well-received rehabilitation tour. But what, exactly, does he think he did wrong?

Since being released from prison in 2010, Jack Abramoff -- "One of the world's most famous lobbyists and former Washington power players," as his Twitter bio puts it -- has been back in the public eye. First there was his work-release stint at a kosher pizza parlor. Then, last month, he released a memoir, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption from America's Most Notorious Lobbyist, in which he details his sordid career of influence-peddling and calls for reforms to clean up a system he has belatedly concluded is corrupt from top to bottom.

Abramoff's reincarnation has brought the longtime Republican some unlikely allies, from campaign-finance reformers to Michael Moore. But while he says he's totally repentant, it was harder to tell, in a recent conversation, what precisely he regrets. The following interview has been condensed and edited.

How is the book tour going? Seems like you've been pretty well received.

I thought I would get attacked, and some people certainly are unhappy what I'm saying, and they should be. But the support I've been getting is surprising too. My encounter with Michael Moore was inspiring and extraordinary. I bumped into him on the Lawrence O'Donnell set and was surprised to hear his incredible support for what I'm trying to do, the message I'm trying to get out.

Are you still a Republican?

I don't know if I'm a Republican. I can't vote again ever, so political party is not a relevant thing for me. "

Get the Story:
Friday Interview: Jack Abramoff, Still Hustling (The Atlantic 12/2)