‘The good, the bad, and the ugly’: Marion Barry claims FBI tried to kill him in crack-smoking sting

Rick Klein, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps
Power Players

Power Players

Nearly a quarter-century after the notorious FBI sting that defined his political career, former D.C. mayor and current city councilman Marion Barry claims that the FBI was trying to kill him.

“I just think so, because during the trial the government refused to have that substance tested,” Barry said, referencing the crack cocaine that he was caught smoking in the raid. “I think that’s kind of strange, don't you think?”

Barry sat down with “Power Players” at D.C.’s Carolina Kitchen restaurant to discuss his new memoir, “Mayor for Life,” in which he tells all about the January 18, 1990 sting when Rasheeda Moore, a former romantic acquaintance of Barry’s, worked with the FBI to catch the then-mayor smoking crack cocaine on videotape.

“I wanted to, first of all, tell the truth … the good, the bad, and ugly, but also to educate people, to inspire people,” Barry said of his book.

“That January 18th night, let me just say that one, I shouldn't have gone to the hotel, shouldn't of gone up to that room, mistake doing that,” he continued. “I apologized to Rasheeda Moore, she was a victim too; apologized to my wife and son Christopher; apologized to the people of Washington, D.C., and the nation, because this nation is a nation of second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances.”

Barry said he wants his story to be remembered as one of hope and encouragement for those looking to overcome personal challenges. Barry writes about one person whom he counseled based on his own challenging life experiences: President Bill Clinton.

During the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Barry said he happened to run into Clinton at an event in D.C. and that the then-president asked him for advice.

“He said, ‘Let me ask you, Mr. Mayor … how do you get through all this stuff when it happens like that?’” Barry recalled that Clinton asked.

“I said, 'First of all, if you’re in a hole, stop digging. That's the first thing you do, stop digging,’” Barry told Clinton. “’When you come out of that hole, you don't need to be feeling sorry for yourself …You have to hold your head high - not arrogantly, but humbly - and you have to have some strong belief in some spiritual being.’”

Despite his strong ties to the Clintons, Barry went on to endorse Barack Obama for president instead of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary. Barry said he takes pride in that decision, though in his book he expresses frustration with what he says is the persistent state of racism and inequality in America six years after electing the first black president. Still, Barry said Obama is not to blame.

“First of all, Barack Obama, none of the leadership of this country is responsible for the racism that exist in this country, not responsible for the economic disparity,” Barry said. “And so, we can't hold him responsible for solving all of America's social problems.”

Barry also opened up about his enjoyment of the hit ABC Washington-based TV drama, “Scandal,” which he has been known to live-tweet.

“I like ‘Scandal,’ because it has some things in it that I liked, and I watched it every week, and I tweeted about it,” Barry said.

But Barry notes that the drama on the show is quite different from a real-life scandal.

“It's one thing to talk about scandal, it's another thing to be involved in one,” he said. “And incidentally, I have not been involved in a scandal. I’ve been involved with a sting, a set-up …”

For more of the interview with Barry, including his response to critiques of his new book, check out this episode of “Power Players.”

ABC News’ Alexandra Dukakis, Tom Thornton, Melissa Young, and Vicki Vennell contributed to this episode.