"FACT CHECK: White House Falsely Claimed Abramoff Had ‘Very Few’ Meetings With Staff"
A House Government Reform Committee report establishes — based on e-mail messages and other records subpoenaed from criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s lobbying firm — that at least 485 contacts occurred between Abramoff’s lobbying team and White House officials between 2001 to 2004.
The Committee documents 13 instances of Abramoff personally meeting with White House staff. Abramoff billed his clients for 32.3 hours for time spent with White House staff.
Last January, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan repeatedly misled the public as to the extent of the relationship between the White House and Abramoff, suggesting there had only been “a few staff-level meetings.”
QUESTION: How about the logs of the people, how many times he came into the White House?
MCCLELLAN: I’m checking into that. I said he’d check into that. I think someone asked that question the other day. I think it is very few times that he has been here in addition to any holiday receptions. [White House Press Briefing, 1/4/06]
QUESTION: Do you have an update for us on the Abramoff visits to the White House beyond the three parties that he attended?
MCCLELLAN: Well, I indicated yesterday that I think there were a few staff-level meetings. But, no, I’m making sure that I have a thorough report back to you on that. And I’ll get that to you, hopefully, very soon. [White House Press Briefing, 1/5/06]
QUESTION: Can you be more specific about the contacts with the senior staff? You said you were going to get back to us on that.
MCCLELLAN: No, I did check. There were a few staff-level meetings. I think I previously indicated that he attended three Hanukkah receptions at the White House. It is actually one two Hanukkah receptions that he attended. … My understanding from the check that we did was that there are just a few staff-level meetings in addition to those. [White House Press Briefing, 1/17/06]
QUESTION: 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…
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. [White House Press Briefing, 1/23/06]