On May 9, 2001, Bush met with 21 state legislators, Abramoff, and several of his tribal clients (including the Coushattas and the Kickapoos). Abramoff charged his clients $25,000 for arranging the meeting.
In June, the AP reported that White House spokeswoman Erin Healy denied Abramoff’s attendance at the meeting:
The White House has no record of the Coushattas or Abramoff at the May 9, 2001, meeting, spokeswoman Erin Healy said. Records show representatives from the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas and the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana met with Bush, along with 21 state legislators, Healy said.
But TIME now has a photo from the May 9 meeting, in which “Bush appears with Abramoff, several unidentified people and Raul Garza Sr., a Texan Abramoff represented who was then chairman of the Kickapoo Indians.”
“Three attendees who spoke to TIME recall that Abramoff was present, and three of them say that’s where the picture of Bush, Abramoff and the former Kickapoo chairman was taken.”
Lovelin Poncho, who was Coushatta tribal chairman at that time and attended the meeting, also recalls meeting with Bush for about 15 minutes. “Poncho recalls Abramoff also attended, said the lawyer, who spoke on condition he not be named.”
Once again, the White House is caught in a lie. The White House keeps records of all meetings with the President. In the face of overwhelming evidence, the administration needs to give the public facts about the meetings Abramoff attended at the White House.