Friday :: Feb 10, 2006

Surprise – Bush Knows Jack, Pretty Well It Turns Out

by Steve

Well, so much for that “I didn’t really know him” defense. Forget it.

President Bush met lobbyist Jack Abramoff almost a dozen times over the past five years and invited him to Crawford, Tex., in the summer of 2003, according to an e-mail Abramoff wrote to a reporter last month.
Bush "has one of the best memories of any politicians I have ever met," Abramoff wrote to Kim Eisler of Washingtonian magazine. "The guys saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids."
In an interview last night, Eisler confirmed the contents of the e-mail and said he recently provided portions of it to the liberal Web log ThinkProgress because he thought he was dealing with a fellow reporter. The blog posted the contents of the Abramoff-Eisler communication.
In the e-mail, Abramoff scoffs at Bush's public statements that he does not recall ever meeting the disgraced lobbyist and former top Bush fundraiser. "Of course he can't recall that he has a great memory!" Abramoff wrote. Eisler, an editor for Washingtonian, said in the interview that the lobbyist was the source of his exclusive report last month that at least five photographs of Bush with Abramoff exist. Abramoff showed him the pictures, Eisler said. Abramoff has told others he will not release them publicly.
Bush has said he does not recall ever meeting Abramoff or posing for pictures with the Republican lobbyist at official events or parties. The White House has refused to release the pictures or detail Abramoff's contacts with top White House officials over the past five years.

Note how Jim VandeHei’s story, whose wife used to work for Tom DeLay, paints a picture of a scandal that will stay away from the White House but instead will be focused at Gale Norton’s Department of the Interior.

No evidence has emerged that Bush or his top White House aides did anything improper to aid Abramoff or his clients, according to people familiar with the investigation. Several lower-level administration officials, however, have been caught up in the scandal, including the top procurement official. The federal probe is expected to zero in on Abramoff's dealing with the Interior Department as it unfolds in the coming months.

Note also how the Post’s reporter on lobbying issues is married to a magazine writer sympathetic to Abramoff, who was the source for that writer’s scoop interview with Abramoff last month. This allowed VandeHei and the Post to plant the “they’re being unfair to Abramoff” meme in the article.

"Perhaps he has forgotten everything," Abramoff wrote in the e-mail. "Who knows?" Eisler said Abramoff did not grant him permission to release the contents of their e-mail and Abramoff is upset that Eisler did. Eisler, who described himself as sympathetic to Abramoff's situation, was trying to show the ThinkProgress reporter that Abramoff was not exaggerating his relationship with Bush.
Eisler said he has known Abramoff for years and considers the level of vilification "out of proportion."
Eisler's wife, Judy Sarasohn, covers lobbying issues for The Washington Post.

Yup, so you can be sure that Harry Reid’s connections to Abramoff while he was minority whip back in 2002 will get maximum play as well, as they already have.

But at least the magazine writer made a clear point yesterday on CNN that Bush does know Jack pretty well.

Steve :: 10:33 AM :: Comments (12) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!