Bush and Abramoff--Picture Them Together

Sunday, January 22, 2006 at 11:39 AM

So the White House's hopes that there are no pictures of the president together with Abramoff have been dashed.  The Washingtonian claims to have "seen five photos of the President with Abramoff or his family. One photo shows the President and Abramoff shaking hands at a meeting in the Old Executive Office Building, where a bearded-Abramoff introduced Bush to several of the lobbyist's native-American clients."

In addition, the paper claims that "Abramoff would tell prosecutors, if asked, that not only did he know the President, but the President knew the names of Abramoff's children and asked about them during their meetings. At one such photo session, Bush discussed the fact that both he and Abramoff were fathers of twins."

So much for McCllelan's prior claim that "The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him." Turns out to be as true as McClellan unequivocal assurance that no one in the White House had anything to do with outing Valerie Plame.

In fact, so much for the claim of Ed Gillespie, former RNC Chair, who also denied knowing Abramoff, despite very public previous comments that sure seem to indicate some familiarity betwen the two, according to the Washington Post.

McClellan's denial for the president started to unravel a few days ago when the White House had to admit that Abramoff had  "few staff-level meetings" at the White House, with McClellan refusing to disclose who met with Abramoff or what they talked about.

And lets face it, the fact that either McClellan or Gillespie thought they could get away with claiming total ignorance of a top Republican fundraiser says something about their sense of reality, don't you think?

Not to mention the fact that there had already been public reports establishing some links between the two, such as a May, 2005 AP report that, according to a Democratic web site: "In 1997, records show that Abramoff charged his client, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands [CNMI], for a letter written by then-Governor George Bush, praising the CNMI's "school choice proposal." The letter dated July 18th 1997 read, "'I hope you will keep my office informed on the progress of this initiative,' besides being addressed to CNMI officials, an Abramoff deputy was also CC'd on the letter from Bush."

Then there's the USA Today report that "In President Bush's first 10 months, GOP fundraiser Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team logged nearly 200 contacts with the new administration as they pressed for friendly hires at federal agencies and sought to keep the Northern Mariana Islands exempt from the minimum wage and other laws, records show."

And, of course, it's going to be tough to claim total ignorance of a man who, as Amramoff did, raised enough money for the Bush campaign in 2004 to have been named a "pioneer," an honor reserved for those who collected more than $100,000, in $2,000 maximum increments.

I hope that people are smart enough to be checking the contacts between Abramoff and Cheney, too.  After all, according to a story in the Washington Post, it looks very much like personal time with Cheney was one of the rewards for being a Pioneer.

Update [2006-1-24 10:14:13 by Lee Russ]: The Washington Post reported today that White House aides said that "Several White House officials have been briefed about pictures of President Bush and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff taken since 2001 but will not release them on grounds that they are not relevant to the ongoing money-for-favors investigation."