Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), whom Newt Gingrich said last month should be thrown in jail over his ties to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, is having a hard time containing his glee at Gingrich’s current predicament.
The Massachusetts Congressman took to the airwaves on Wednesday and Thursday to spike the football over reports that Gingrich took $1.6 million in consulting fees from Freddie Mac. The ex-Speaker said in a recent debate he was merely there as a “historian,” but a Bloomberg report indicated that, while technically not a lobbyist, he was tasked with helping win over Republicans who wanted to dismantle Freddie Mac.
“Well, he’s just lying,” Frank told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Thursday. “It is, of course, lobbying.”
He added: “He is clearly the highest paid historian in American history. People complain if you go into the humanities, you don’t make as much money, but this may do a lot for that career path.”
Gingrich has repeatedly accused Frank of helping to cause the subprime mortgage crisis by failing to stop Freddie Mac from loading up on bad loans while serving on the House Financial Services Committee. But he defended himself on Thursday, blaming Republicans for turning a blind eye to reforming the mortgage giant during their decade-plus in the majority.
“If Tom DeLay was taking my advice during the period when I was in the minority, Bill Clinton wouldn’t have been impeached, we wouldn’t have gone to war in Iraq, and he wouldn’t have gone on the dance show,” he said.
Frank brought up Gingrich’s recent comments that since the payments were handled by his firm, the Gingrich Group, he couldn’t recall all the details about them.
“Frankly, I thought the ‘Gingrich Group’ were his wives,” he said in a jab at the thrice-married Republican.
The comedy routine continued as Matthews brought up a recent interview with former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff’s in which he said Gingrichs was “engaged in the exact kind of corruption that America disdains.”
“Don’t you mean ‘historian’ Jack Abramoff?” Frank deadpanned.
On Wednesday, Frank told MSNBC’s Martin Bashir that Gingrich was a “lobbyist and liar” in another enthusiastically vicious interview.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.