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Bush In Photos With Abramoff

WASHINGTON - Although President Bush says he doesn't recall meeting convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the two have reportedly turned up in photos together.

Both Washingtonian and Time magazines have reported the existence of about a half-dozen photos showing the two together.

Time reported on its Web site Sunday that its staff members have seen at least six photos featuring Bush and Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his lobbying practices and has pledged to cooperate with investigators. They appeared to have been taken at White House functions, according to the reports.

The White House has acknowledged that Abramoff attended some events at the Executive Mansion, and spokeswoman Dana Perino said Sunday it's not surprising that the two would have met.

"The president has taken tens upon thousands of pictures at such events," Perino said.

Abramoff met a few times with White House staff and attended Hanukkah receptions in 2001 and 2002, the White House has said, but officials there have refused to disclose how many times he's been into the complex or what business he had there.

The White House also has not released any photos featuring the president and Abramoff, who was declared a Bush "pioneer" for raising at least $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney '04 re-election campaign.

This is going to get a ton of attention from the media and the left. The contributions made by Abramoff to Bush have already been the subject of much scrutiny and criticism. But before Howard Dean and his ilk begin talking about perp-walking the President out of the White House I'd like to remind everybody, once again, that it is not Abramoff's personal donations to politicians that has him in trouble. Rather, it is the contributions he directed his clients to make to politicians in return for special favors.

This is how it worked: Abramoff would approach a politician to find out if they would be willing to "play ball" for his clients. If yes, Abramoff would direct his clients to contribute the appropriate amount to the politician in question. He did not, as far as we know, route any of this money through his personal accounts or contributions to politicians. And he would be stupid to have done that. Abramoff, as a private individual, faced the same contribution limits under campaign finance law as everybody else. Once he reached those limits he could donate no more in his name. Indian tribes, however, are exempted from that law and can contribute unlimited amounts of money.

Of course, if it comes out that Bush did engaged in some quid pro quo with Abramoff for these contributions the President should have to face the music like everybody else. But that's highly unlikely. Given what we know about Abramoff's other dealings he did not arrange for political favors based on his personal contributions.

But that won't stop left-wing demagogues and media from getting out the tar brush for Bush. Which is sort of ironic, in a way, given that these are the same people who are vehemently denying any connection between Democrats and Abramoff despite the fact that Abramoff directed hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from his clients to Democrats. Given the realities of influence peddling, it is those directed contributions which are more troublesome than Abramoff's personal contributions.

You can read more from Rob Port at SayAnythingBlog.com


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Comments (20)

I would guess they will get... (Below threshold)
bill:

I would guess they will get about the same play as the Johnie Chung and Charlie Tree photos, don't you?

I have about a dozen photos... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

I have about a dozen photos with GWB and myself from various events. Doesn't mean a thing. I was on the College Republican national committee when Abramoff was the chair, we had photos with Reagan and Bush Sr. at one meeting -- it's very easy to get in a photograph with a politician. It's what they do.

We also took photos with Abramoff and Ted Kennedy refusing to sign a petition supporting Lech Welesa and Solidarity. Wish I knew how to find them.

How is it a fact that Abram... (Below threshold)
Chris:

How is it a fact that Abramoff directed his clients to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats? I'm curious where you came up with that. If a tribe was giving money to Democrats before they started working with Abramoff, and continued to give to Democrats after they started working with him, how is it that all of a sudden they're giving at Abramoff's direction? As I said in an earlier comment, all of Abramoff's Indian clients gave less to Democrats after they started working with him than they had previously. Abramoff directed money away from Democrats. You can keep repeating the Republican spin, but it's just wrong.

OH NO! THEY HAVE PICTURE S... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

OH NO! THEY HAVE PICTURE SOF SOMEONE WITH THE PRESIDENT!

Unless the pictures are of Abramoff giving the President big bags of money secretly behind a dumpster outside the 7-11, I'm not impressed.

That's like saying that just because someone took a picture of Bill Clinton with a woman, he was trying to have sex with her.

OK. That's a bad example.

Hmmmm.How... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

How is it a fact that Abramoff directed his clients to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats? I'm curious where you came up with that.

Try everywhere except for the NYT.

What's even more amusing is that those Democrats that have been specifically fingered as recipients of this money have so far refused to return any of it.

Perhaps they think they can brazen it out.

Steve L. - Actuall... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Steve L. -

Actually there are several pictures of Bill Clinton and ex-Enron CEO "Kenny Boy" Lay together, probably one of the reasons that EnronGate never really took off with the Democrats.

Ed:Give us specifi... (Below threshold)
jeff:

Ed:

Give us specific examples of where we can find info on Abramoff's donations to dems.

It's very interesting that 3 weeks ago, the White House said that George Bush had "never met Jack Abramoff". Now that pictures are surfaciing, there's a new spin. Kind of reminds me of why we invaded Iraq: just rearrange the story when the facts prove the last one erroneous. But that's ok - what's amazing is that you people just follow right along. Like lemmings into the ocean....

edIf it's everywhe... (Below threshold)
Chris:

ed

If it's everywhere but the NY Times, perhaps you would be so kind as to point me to it. And I'm talking about someplace that documents it, not a blog that just states it as fact.

And Steve L, the issue of Bush and Abramoff photos isn't just that they had their photos taken. Presidents get their photo taken with thousands of people. It doesn't make them responsible for everything those people ever do. The issue is that Bush claimed to never having met Abramoff, despite the fact that Abramoff was one of his biggest fundraisers. I'm sorry, but that strains credulity. And even if the President doesn't know someone, it seems if he's had his picture taken with a guy on five separate occasions, and the guy's a major fundraiser, he'd have some recollection of meeting him. I'm sorry, but I'm convinced Bush is simply lying.

Chris:I wouldn't c... (Below threshold)
jeff:

Chris:

I wouldn't count on getting too much specific information from the eds of this world. They will say or do anything to defend this corrupt administration. Of course George Bush is lying. He's been lying to this country ever since he claimed to have completed his duty "honorably" with the air national guard. Unfortunately, there are many people who's politics comes above what right for this country. Read "What's the Matter With Kansas" - it's a real eye opener about the Repugnants today.

Gee, what happened to Ed, M... (Below threshold)
jeff:

Gee, what happened to Ed, Mesablue, Steve L, and Mike? They've gotten awfully quiet sine they were challenged to back-up statements with actual facts. Hmmmm. I guess I better watch out, or they'll say I didn't deserve my medals from Vietnam. You guys are such losers.

Uh, guys? Byron Dorgan, Har... (Below threshold)

Uh, guys? Byron Dorgan, Harry Reid and Patty Murray have all been identified as receiving contributions from Abramoff clients -- by their own admission.

You really need to get out more.

Uh, McGehee? You kinda jus... (Below threshold)
jeff:

Uh, McGehee? You kinda just hit the nail on the head. Byron Dorgan, Harry Reid, and Patty Murray all ACKNOWLEDGED that they received donations from Jack Abramoff. George Bush won't even admit to having ever met the guy!!

You really need to be more honest with yourself.

Gee, what happened to Ed... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

Gee, what happened to Ed, Mesablue, Steve L, and Mike? They've gotten awfully quiet sine they were challenged to back-up statements with actual facts. Hmmmm. I guess I better watch out, or they'll say I didn't deserve my medals from Vietnam. You guys are such losers.

Where'd I go? Check the time of my post -- I went to bed, guess that makes me a loser.

Fact-- the vast majority of the money that changed hands went to members of both parties. That is unquestionable -- not spin.

If Republicans violated the law I hope they are punished. I'm sure most Republicans feel that way. No congitive dissonance here or on the right for the most part. This will play out in the courts and Republicans AND Democrats will get what is coming to them.

The funny thing is, all we've said is that this is not really a reason for the left to be jumping up and down for joy because some of their guys got caught as well. The Republicans have chosen to return the money, so far the Dems have decided not to in their usually arrogant manner.


Republicans have acknowledged that this is a serious issue that should not have happened and that those involved should face the consequences of their actions.

Dems are saying -- "Its a Republican scandal", "the money's not the same", "we didn't take individual contributions so all the quid pro quo money (tens of thousands more than Abramoff ever contributed to any of the candidates that he contributed to personally) that we took from the casinos doesn't count". "Blah, blah and blah".

Who is spinning?

This isn't going to turn into the disaster for the right that the left has wanted and will take down a few of their own so we have another instance of the stamping of little feet in anger.

There will be an investigation, Abramoff is going to sing like a canary to cut his deal. This will play out as it should and in the end, Republicans and Dems will pay the price.

I guess I better watch out, or they'll say I didn't deserve my medals from Vietnam.

Thank you for your service to our country.

I'm sure that you deserve any medal that you earned and my respect for doing so.

I hope that you support and respect the troops who have volunteered to put their life on the line for our country today.

From the AP:"In he... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

From the AP:

"In her Sunday column, ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote that Abramoff “had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties,” prompting a wave of nasty reader postings on post.blog.

There were so many personal attacks that the newspaper’s staff could not “keep the board clean, there was some pretty filthy stuff,” and so the Post shut down comments on the blog, or Web log, said Jim Brady, executive editor of washingtonpost.com.

» AP: Paper Shutters Blog After Ombudsman Post"

Those poor peace loving, animal protecting, pacifist, sweet little lefties at work.

Jeff, when you resort to name calling, you lose all credibility. Even the WaPo gets that.


Mesablue:You must ... (Below threshold)
jeff:

Mesablue:

You must be one of three conservatives who actually supports convictions of any repubnants in the Abramoff scandal. Give yourself a pat on the back.

"Fact-- the vast majority of the money that changed hands went to members of both parties. That is unquestionable -- not spin."

I'm not sure where else the money would have gone other than the two parties...? The ASPCA? The majority of the money went to republicans in Washington - that is the real fact here. And the real fact here is that more republicans than democrats are being implicated - including the White House. But George didn't know anything about it, right?

"Republicans have acknowledged that this is a serious issue that should not have happened and that those involved should face the consequences of their actions."

Wow! How great! The repubnants took the money, but now they're acknowledging that it was wrong. How amazing! Talk about "usually arrogant manner"!! And of course, Dennis Hastert, who received some of those donations from Abramoff is overseeing the new lobbying rules - talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

"Those poor peace loving, animal protecting, pacifist, sweet little lefties at work."

So, your credibilty's shot too, right?

I support our troops. I don't support chickenhawks that lie and send our young men and women into harms way. Do you?

Gee, what happened to Ed... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Gee, what happened to Ed, Mesablue, Steve L, and Mike? They've gotten awfully quiet sine they were challenged to back-up statements with actual facts.

Actually, I have a job that requires me to work some of the time. I know, in the Democrat's world, that is completely and totally unreasonable. Everyone should be suckling at the teat of the Government.

As for my opinion on this matter, I was only pointing out that people are salivating over a picture. Even Time admits that these picks come from "clicks" where the Presidnet is quickly photographed with someone. Show me hard evidence that there is some vast conspiracy in this matter and I'll listen. The whole "well that just strains credulity" meme doesn't work with me. Show me direct proof if you want to make a point. Don't waste my time with innuendo and expect me to take it seriously.

The reason Dems are saying ... (Below threshold)
Chris:

The reason Dems are saying it's a Republican scandal is because it's a Republican scandal. And I think it's very noble of Steve L. to demand proof before condemning the President for meeting with Abramoff. Unfortunately, Steve, it's a little hard to produce proof when the White House is actively stonewalling the issue, first saying Abramoff neber met with the President, now acknowledging that he attended staff meetings. With what staff? "That's all I'll tell you" says Scot McClellan. Now the photos surface, but the White House doesn't want anyone to see them. Perhaps proof would be a little easier to come by if the White House was interested in the truth. When there's a difference of opinion, do you usually believe the party that obfuscates and stonewalls? What is it I hear so often from the apologists for NSA eavesdropping? Right, "you shouldn't mind people listening if you have nothing to hide."

I'll repeat it again and keep repeating it. Just because a tribe was an Abramoff client and gave money to a Democrat, it doesn't mean they did it at Abramoff's "direction," particularly if they had been giving money to the Democrats before they ever started working with Abramoff. His clients gave less to Democrats after they started working with him than before. That's called directing money AWAY from the Democrats, and TOWARD the Republicans. This article from Bloomberg is one of the few that bothers to look behind the numbers:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=arVHles5cKJc&refer=us#

And since when is lobbying illegal? We may find it distasteful, but I'm not sure why the Indian tribes have to apologize for trying to "buy influence." That's what lobbyists do. To the extent there were bribes, then yes, they need to be held accountable. But the reason the Republicans are trying to spin it that taking money from the Indian tribes is in itself wrong is because they donate so much to Democrats, and it helps them tell the story that anyone who took Indian money is equally guilty. But that's not what this whole scandal is about.

And Jeff, I appreciate that your heart's in the right place, but you're playing into their game when you say "sure both sides took money, but the Republicans took more." That's not what it's about.

Chris,Nicely put a... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

Chris,

Nicely put and thought out, however, this is not going to touch the White House because there is nothing there.

Abramoff has been raising money to gain influence in Washington since the mid 80's. Most who have dealt with him recognised him for what he was -- an opportunist. There's a million of them inside the beltway. He's been known as a cancer for quite a while. But, because of his clients, he had to be dealt with. But, never as a true insider, he never had much influence outside of those few members of congress that are about to get hurt. Greed matched greed. Why do you think he ended up working with the casino interests in the first place? He'd burned too many bridges everywhere else. Some people are too big an asshole to match their talents, he was one of them.

I get a kick out of the people that are shocked by what happens in DC if they've never worked there. Abramoff started out legit and then tried to scam his way to a guaranteed future (the Florida casino deal) -- and got caught.


Good riddance.

This will be yesterdays news as soon as the indictments are handed down.

The Bush administration will not be touched by this because it has nothing to hide.

I've never said the White H... (Below threshold)
Chris:

I've never said the White House will be implicated (other than David Safavian, of course, who's already been arrested). My point about the Bush photos all along has been the ludicrous assertion by Bush that he never met Abramoff. Don't you think, knowing that he was a Bush Pioneer, that the President mght have asked his people to confirm that fact before he made such a ridiculous assertion, also known as a lie? I'm sorry, but "I never met him, oh, other than five or six times" doesn't count as telling the truth.

And it's interesting how you absolve the entire Republican party establishment of connections with Abramoff, without citing a single source.

Please explain this article from U.S. News & World Report in March, 2002:

"It's being dubbed the "battle of the Republican uber-lobbyists," pitting Haley Barbour, once the face of the GOP, and quiet Jack Abramoff, his biggest competitor. The jockeying for the top spot kicked into high gear this month when Abramoff helped open the posh Signatures restaurant, down the street from Barbour & Co.'s Caucus Room. This place is hot -- and booked with GOP fundraisers . . . Also, Abramoff's lobbying team just beat Barbour's over an Indian casino issue in Louisiana. What's more, he's a big pal of Rep. Tom DeLay, the likely next House majority leader. "He's the face of the new generation," says an ally."

Or how about this quote from Ed Gillespie when he was chairman of the Republican National Committee:
“I know Jack Abramoff and I know Wayne Berman. They are Republicans; they were Republicans before they were lobbyists.”

Yeah, way to disassociate yourself from someone. Face it, Republicans. You can run but you can't hide.

Steve L.Funny that... (Below threshold)
Nick:

Steve L.

Funny that you're not concerned about innuendo. Wasn't it conservatives that were apoplectic over the ridiculous rumour that Bill and Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster "murdered"? Steve, it's right from the Bush playbook to change the story when it suits your agenda.

As far as a job being "totally unreasonable" you apparently need reminding that it's the tax revenue from "blue" states like CA and NY that contribute more income for the federal gov't than, oh let's say red states, like Alabama and Kansas. Guess what? That revenue comes from Democrats holding jobs. If you don't want our money......




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