"White House Abramoff Stonewall, Day 18"
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was first asked about meetings between Jack Abramoff and White House staff on January 4. On January 5, McClellan said he would have a “thorough report” on staff level contacts “very soon.”
18 days later, the stonewall continues. From today’s White House press gaggle.
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. Abramoff had?
MR. McCLELLAN: …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.
Jack Abramoff, apparently, has a different view about his relationship with Bush. From the Washingtonian:
Abramoff would tell prosecutors, if asked, that not only did he know the President, but the President knew the names of Abramoff’s children and asked about them during their meetings. At one such photo session, Bush discussed the fact that both he and Abramoff were fathers of twins.
Also, the photographs in question include one from a personal meeting between Bush, Jack Abramoff and a group of Abramoff clients. If there is nothing to hide, why not release the photos and the list of White House contacts with Abramoff?