Monday, January 23, 2006

How Much Did Your Photo Op With The President Cost?

I don't know about you, but I have never been able to pony up the bucks necessary to have my picture taken with any president, let alone a sitting one. Apparently, there are some snaps of Mr. Abramoff and the shrubster circulating. I don't care about that, but find it very interesting that Scotty is avoiding telling us exactly which "staff meetings" he was allowed to infiltrate. Have a gander:
Q On the Abramoff pictures. You had said last week that if we had something specific, that you would then explain further about the connections between the President and the White House and Mr. Abramoff. Can you talk about the specific circumstances surrounding these pictures, and exactly the range of contacts that Mr. Abrmaoff had?

MR. McCLELLAN: I can talk -- let me repeat some of what I have said previously. First of all, the Department of Justice is holding Mr. Abramoff and others to account for the wrongdoing they engaged in. The wrongdoing they engaged in was outrageous, and they should be held to account. And that's what the administration's Department of Justice is doing. They're also continuing to investigate whether others were involved, as well, as they should. And they will continue to pursue it to the fullest. Now in terms of the reports about some of these pictures, as we have previously indicated, the President did not have a personal relationship with Mr. Abramoff. But we also indicated that it should not be surprising that he might have taken some pictures with him at some of the widely attended events that we know both attended. What I indicated previously was, if you've got some specific issue that you need to bring to my attention, fine. But what we're not going to do is engage in a fishing expedition that has nothing to do with the investigation.

Q Why not -- why are you guys resistant to open this here? What is there to hide, or why not just say, here are the contacts he had, here are the issues he talked about when he came to the White House, here are the people --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I did do a check, and I indicated to you exactly what I just told you. I indicated to you that there were a few staff-level meetings that he attended at least -- he attended two holiday receptions, in 2001 and 2002. There are some 400 to 500 people at each of those gatherings. And of course there's a photo line at those holiday receptions. The President has participated in tens upon thousands of photo lines or pictures in photo lines over the course of the last five years. He's taken pictures with many of you. But like I said, we're just not going to get into a fishing expedition that has nothing to do with the investigation. Though we have been very straightforward about that, when asked about it.

Q I understand that. But why not just say, and just get it over with -- say, here are the issues that he talked about -- he came to the White House to talk about, here's who he met with, and then move on. Why not --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not aware of anything that has anything to do wit the investigation. I know that there's some Democrats that want to try to make this -- try to engage in partisan attacks. But what we do know from media reports is that Mr. Abramoff gave directly or indirectly to Democrats and Republicans. Trying to say there's more to it than the President taking a picture in a photo line is just absurd.
I don't think it is really so absurd, Scotty. Are you just saying that to avoiding the real issue - that Abramoff had some serious connections that he bought with stolen money?

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