Wednesday, January 04, 2006

When Six Thousand is Not One Hundred Thousand

So, did Abramoff give W six grand or more like $100,000 for his political coffers? Here's an interesting exchange with Scotty. Do you believe the President doesn't know Abramoff? Abramoff was a "Pioneer." There must be some advantage to becoming one, no? So, no doubt, at least the man held the ear of the president for at least a lot longer than most American Taxpayers. Have a gander:
Q Scott, Abramoff raised more than $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney campaign, and the campaign has given back, like, $6,000. Why aren't they giving back more?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you might want to talk to the RNC to get the specifics. That's my understanding, is that Mr. Abramoff and his wife, and a tribal interest that he represented had contributed that money. And this is keeping -- consistent with past practice of the campaign. If people are involved in wrongdoing, they return that money that that person contributed, or donate it to a specific charity. In this case, I understand that they're going to be donating that money to the American Heart Association.

Q But you don't think the rest of the money that he brought in --

MR. McCLELLAN: Are you suggesting that there are others that were involved in wrongdoing? If you want to bring that to my attention, and I'll refer it to the RNC.

Q I'm asking if the money that he gave --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it's our past practice, or the past practice of the campaign has been what I described. If people are involved in wrongdoing -- I think there's been very few instances of that, one or two maybe where money has been donated to a charity that that individual gave to the campaign.

Q Well, I guess, the question is, though, since he raised the money and you don't know what was involved in raising that money, does that not put a taint or a cloud over it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that it's keeping with past practice, and they took the appropriate step.

Q But Hastert is giving all of it back.

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, John.

Q But have you been able to more clearly determine whether the President ever met Abramoff at any of these White House --

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I talked about this earlier today, maybe you weren't here earlier this morning, but -- when I talked to some of your colleagues.

Q I thought you said he might have been, but I'm just wondering --

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said it's possible that they would have met at a holiday reception or some other widely attended gathering. The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him.

Q But he has the special designation as a Pioneer, as Terry was alluding to, raising more than $100,000. And he attended, as you told us, three events, holiday receptions at the White House. How likely is it that the President would not have met him --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said it's possible. But I just told you what I know at this point, and the President doesn't recall meeting him and he certainly doesn't know him.

Q Will you release -- go ahead.

Q Since you often take photos in those instances at receptions, will you make that available?

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't thought about that. I'll take it under consideration.

Q How about the logs of the people -- how many times he came into the White House?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I'm checking into that. I said I'd check into that -- I think someone asked that question the other day. I think it's very few times that he's been here, in addition to any holiday receptions...

...Q Scott, you said a few moments ago that you thought that if Abramoff had been to the White House it has only been a couple of times besides possible holiday receptions. How long do you think it will take to track down exactly when he was --

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, it's going to be long -- that's my understanding, just kind of an initial check, just -- there are probably a few staff-level meetings and that's about it --

Q And secondly, as you know, the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- in addition to what I indicated earlier.

Q Periodically, the President has receptions for fundraisers, Pioneers, sometimes here, usually -- often at the ranch adjacent to his down in Crawford. Are you looking into also whether Abramoff might have been at one of those meetings?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know anything about it. I'll try and take a look at it.

Q Scott, on the money Abramoff raised, there is evidence that he boasted to clients and others that by raising this money and his Pioneer status got him a certain connection here, that he was wired into the process. Is that the point of the Pioneer program? And do you want the money raised --

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely not. The President --

Q Do you want the money raised by someone who makes that claim?

MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely not. The President makes decisions based on what is right for the American people. And that's what he has always done, and that's what he'll continue to do. If someone thinks that money is coming in with strings attached, it doesn't get in the door.

Q Do you want the money from someone who went out making that claim to people, saying, this money bought me influence?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think I indicated to you that in keeping with past practice, that the money that was contributed by Mr. Abramoff, his wife, and tribal interests that he represented is being donated to the American Heart Association. We think that's an appropriate step to take.

Q Does the money he collected have no taint whatsoever?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think we're taking the appropriate steps in terms of this individual. It's similar to what we have done with previous individuals that may have been involved in wrongdoing that had contributed money, too. And I think in terms of others making those decisions, it's up to them, but there are certainly people on both sides of the aisle that ought to take a look at that.

Go ahead

Q Scott, why would --

MR. McCLELLAN: And I would remind you, too, that -- what I said yesterday, because this is an individual who has donated money from himself or his clients to Democrats and Republicans alike. That's based on press reports; press reports have shown that, that significant amounts have been contributed to both Republicans and Democrats alike.

Q -- $100,000 may have come from his clients. Do you want that money?

MR. McCLELLAN: If you want to insinuate someone was involved in wrongdoing, you can bring it to the campaign's attention, or the RNC. They'll be glad to talk about it further. They're the appropriate place to address these questions.

Q So, Scott, why would a Jack Abramoff have access to staff-level meetings here at the White House?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know the facts surrounding that, Peter. I said I'm checking into it. But as you know, we don't get into discussing staff-level meetings.

Q A couple other questions. What kind of review that's beyond responding to the queries from reporters, what kind of a review do you have of his contacts? Is there any sort of an internal review of his contacts with administration officials?

MR. McCLELLAN: You mean administration-wide?

Q Yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't heard anything about that, Peter. I don't know why there needs to be from our end. The Justice Department is investigating the matter and that's the appropriate place to do it.

Q Given the scope of the legislative end of this, will there be any reiteration of ethical guidelines to especially departments where he and his team had a lot of contacts?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this administration has always emphasized the importance of adhering to high ethical guidelines. And we have strong ethical guidelines that are in place that we expect everybody throughout the administration to follow.

No comments: