Lott under investigation by federal agents

The Wall Street Journal is reporting former Republican Senator Trent Lott is under investigation by federal agents.

The newspaper article says the government is looking into whether Lott knowingly played a role in an alleged conspiracy to influence a Mississippi judge.

Their report is attributed to "people familiar with the situation." The senior Republican senator unexpectedly resigned his senate post just two days before Dickie Scruggs was indicted in November.

Indicted lawyer turned government witness Timothy Balducci testified Wednesday that Scruggs had tried to use Lott to influence rulings made by Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby Delaughter.

He said in turn Lott would recommend Judge Delaughter for a seat on the federal bench. Lott is not charged with any wrong doing, neither is Delaughter.

At the center of controversy is William Wilson versus Dickie Scruggs, a lawsuit over $16 million in asbestos legal fees.

A special master recommended Scruggs pay up, but Delaughter overruled that and ruled in favor of Scruggs, asying nothing was owed Wilson other ther than $1.5 million.

Balducci said Lott called DeLaughter on Scruggs' behalf.

Assistant US Attorney Tom Dawson said in court today the Delaughter case is under active investigation of the Public Integrity Division of the Justice Department in Washington D.C.

Judge Delaughter will reportedly be called to testify in the bribery trial along with Lott. So will Timothy Balducci and Joey Langston.

The lineup for potential witnesses may include Senator Thad Cochran and former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters. Delaughter served as assistant DA under Peters and is a trusted friend. Scruggs is accused of attempting to bribe another circuit court judge, Henry Lackey, in Lafayette County.