Embedded video from CNN Video
D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) went national this morning, appearing on CNN's American Morning to defend giving a contract to then-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt last year.
The interview with Carol Costello sometimes grew combative, particularly when she asked why he could not stay out of "trouble."
"All those things you call trouble have been non-starters," Barry (D-Ward 8) told her. He said he wanted "the world to know" that he has never been accused of stalking and that he had been vindicated. On July 4, Barry was arrested in Anacostia Park after Watts-Brighthaupt told a police officer that Barry had been "bothering her," which led to a
stalking charge. Though the charge was dropped later in the week, the arrest exposed a $5,000-a-month contract to Watts-Brighthaupt, and the D.C. Council has launched a special investigation. But Barry continues to explain that it is not against the law to hire a
girlfriend "I have obeyed the law. My constituents understand these things," he said in the CNN interview.
Costello showed a clip of the new HBO documentary about Barry. The clip begins with the infamous black-and-white footage of his arrest at the Vista hotel. Barry said the documentary "is 78 minutes long. That scene you just showed is one and a half minutes long."
Costello asked, "Do you have any regrets about your past?"
Barry's response? "The FBI ought to regret spending $25 million...and not getting a conviction at the Vista," he said.
The former mayor spent six months in prison for cocaine possession and later staged an impressive comeback to become mayor again.
Minutes later, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) had his regularly scheduled appearance on NBC4. He said he never gave such contracts as a council member and said the council should have stricter standards when it comes to hiring significant others. He stopped short of saying they should not do it at all, noting that there should be a process.
-- Nikita Stewart