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Russert: ISG Commissioners Say Giuliani’s Excuse For Leaving Is Untrue

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"Russert: ISG Commissioners Say Giuliani’s Excuse For Leaving Is Untrue"

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Earlier this week, Newsday reported that former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani quit the Iraq Study Group after co-chairman James Baker offered “him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit.” Giuliani had failed to show up for a single meeting during the two months he was a member of the commission.

In response to the story, Giuliani said he left the group because he “didn’t want the group’s work to become a political football” for his nascent presidential campaign, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked.

On Meet The Press this morning, host Tim Russert offered more evidence that politics was not an issue in Giuliani’s decision to leave the ISG. “Several commission members have said to me that presidential politics never entered the discussion,” said Russert. “It was all about Giuliani’s schedule and commitments versus showing up for the Iraq Study Group.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/06/giulisg63.320.240.flv]

As PBS’s Gwen Ifil pointed out, the important work of the Iraq Study Group should have come before any political considerations. “Even if it were his presidential ambitions,” said Ifill. “Is that really a good answer that you were so political that you rather focus on politics than focus on the nation’s security?”

Transcript:

TIM RUSSERT: “The developments came on a day when the campaign was responding to a report in Newsday that Mr. Diuliani quit the Iraq Study Group last year after failing to show up for a single meeting. The report said Mr. Giuliani missed the meetings to give paid speeches and his absence has prompted the panel’s Republican co-chairman, James Baker, to ask him to either start showing up or leave the group.” The Giuliani campaign said part of the equation is he was considering to run for president at that time and his presence on the group may pose a potential conflict. several commission members said to me that presidential politics never entered the discussion, it was all about Giuliani’s schedule and commitments versus showing up for the iraq study group. Does this week matter?

GWEN IFILL: Even if it were his presidential ambitions that kept him, is that really a good answer that you were so political that you rather focus on politics than focus on the nation’s security when you are running as the top cop? I don’t think had a really particularly good answer for that.

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