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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-09-08 12:08 PM
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Oversight Committee Releases Proposed Abramoff Report
Edited on Mon Jun-09-08 12:08 PM by ProSense

Oversight Committee Releases Proposed Abramoff Report

June 9th, 2008 by Jesse Lee

Today Chairman Henry Waxman and Ranking Member Tom Davis of the Oversight Committee issued a proposed Committee report on White House contacts with Jack Abramoff that concludes that Mr. Abramoff had personal contact with President Bush, that high-level White House officials held Mr. Abramoff and his associates in high regard and solicited recommendations from them on policy matters, that Mr. Abramoff and his associates influenced some White House actions, and that Mr. Abramoff and his associates offered White House officials expensive tickets and meals. On Thursday, June 12, at 10:00 a.m., in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, the Committee will hold a business meeting to mark up the proposed Committee report.

Read extensive background on the Abramoff investigation

Read the full report (pdf)

Excerpts from the Executive Summary:

The Committees investigation was hindered in several ways that limit the scope of the Committees conclusions. First, six individuals, including three former White House officials, whom the Committee sought to depose or interview refused in whole or in part to answer the Committees questions on Fifth Amendment grounds. Second, the Committee did not take the depositions of several relevant lobbyists identified in the 2006 Committee staff report, including Mr. Abramoff himself, because the Department of Justice expressed concern that congressional depositions could undermine ongoing investigations. Third, the Justice Department asked to withhold documents from the Committee out of a similar concern. Fourth, several of the individuals deposed or interviewed by the Committee asserted that they were unable to recall the specifics of some of the matters under investigation, which occurred four to seven years ago.

It is possible the investigation was also made more difficult by the fact that some White House officials may have used e-mail accounts maintained by the Republican National Committee to discuss Abramoff matters among themselves. The RNC informed the Committee that it has retained few or no e-mails for these officials for the relevant time period.

Despite these limitations, the documents and testimony obtained by the Committee confirm that Mr. Abramoff and his associates had contacts with White House officials and influenced some Administration decisions.

Mr. Abramoffs Influence Inside the White House. The documents show that Mr. Abramoff and his associates influenced some White House actions. In one instance, the Abramoff team persuaded White House officials to intervene to remove from office a State Department official, Alan Stayman, who had advocated reforms in the Northern Mariana Islands that Mr. Abramoff opposed. In one exchange, Mr. Schlapp e-mailed Monica Kladakis, the deputy associate director of presidential personnel, to ask how do we fix this? Ms. Kladakis responded: I think we can do something about it, but Im trying to figure out what is the best way to go about it. I dont want a firing scandal on our hands. Both Karl Rove, the Presidents top political advisor, and Stephen Hadley, the deputy National Security Advisor, were informed of Mr. Abramoffs opposition to Mr. Stayman.

Following the release of the Committees September 2006 staff report, White House officials said the White House would take a good hard look and conduct a thorough review of the contacts that Mr. Abramoff had with White House officials. The Committee asked several former White House officials interviewed or deposed by the Committee whether the White House contacted them to inquire about their contacts with Mr. Abramoff. None of the White House officials who spoke with the Committee had any recollection of White House officials asking them about their contacts with Mr. Abramoff or his associates.

Excerpts from the Findings:

The testimony and documents obtained by the Committee following the September 2006 Committee staff report confirm that Mr. Abramoff had access to the White House. Further, the record before the Committee contradicts White House claims that with respect to his White House contacts, Mr. Abramoff got nothing out of it. Not only did Mr. Abramoff achieve some positive results from his White House lobbying, but White House officials sought out the views of Mr. Abramoff and his colleagues on matters of official business.

Jack Abramoff Influenced Some White House Actions

Senior White House officials held Mr. Abramoff and others on his team in high regard. In a deposition, Matt Schlapp, Director of the White House Office of Political Affairs (OPA) from 2003 to 2005, testified that he considered Mr. Abramoff to be a point of information, based on his knowledge and his experience and his judgment on issues surrounding politics and policy and how the town works. With respect to Tony Rudy, Mr. Schlapp said, He is somebody I had great professional trust in, whose opinion I respected. Similarly, Ken Mehlman, Director of OPA from 2001 to 2003, stated, Mr. Rudy is someone I knew, and believed to be a person that was honest and supportive of the President.

Consistent with these statements, records obtained by the Committee show that communications from Mr. Abramoff and his associates carried weight with White House officials. In some instances, White House officials took action that advanced Mr. Abramoffs lobbying goals. Other times, White House officials reached out to Mr. Abramoff and his team to seek their views on policy matters. And the documents contain examples in which White House officials gave consideration to Mr. Abramoffs communications in policy deliberations even though they ultimately did not take the action requested by Mr. Abramoff.

1. White House Officials Intervened in a State Department Decision Regarding Extending the Employment of State Department Official Allen Stayma

One action that White House officials took at the request of Mr. Abramoff was to intervene to force the removal of a State Department official, Alan Stayman. In a previous position at the Office of Insular Affairs in the Department of the Interior, Mr. Stayman had advocated positions opposed by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, then a client of Mr. Abramoff. Mr. Stayman was appointed to his position at the Department of State during the Clinton Administration.

The Greenberg Traurig documents described in the September 2006 staff report indicated that the Abramoff team lobbied the White House for the removal of Allen Stayman from his position at the State Department despite the fact that Mr. Staymans superiors at the State Department had approved the extension of his employment in June 2001. Documents provided to the Committee by the White House and State Department, as well as testimony from White House officials, corroborate the Greenberg Traurig evidence that the White House was involved in the Stayman matter, as well as the account the Committee received from Mr. Stayman. In a recent Committee deposition, Monica Kladakis, then-Deputy Associate Director in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel (OPP), confirmed that OPP became involved in Mr. Staymans removal after White House officials were contacted by Mr. Abramoffs team. In a July 2001 e-mail produced by the White House, Stuart Holiday, then-Associate Director of OPP, summarized the Stayman matter as follows: We pulled the plug on him.

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From TPM Muckraker: House Committee Details Abramoff Connections to Bush White House




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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-09-08 01:10 PM
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1. Remember all the lies Bush told
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