White House Falsely Claimed Rove Only Had A ‘Casual Relationship’ With Abramoff

A House Government Reform Committee report documents at least 82 contacts between Karl Rove’s office and Jack Abramoff’s lobbying team. The Committee describes at least ten “direct contacts” between Abramoff and Rove, seven of which were instances of lobbying.

And yet, Karl Rove told Scott McClellan that his relationship with Abramoff was “more of a casual relationship” than a business one.

MCCLELLAN: Yes [Rove] knows Mr. Abramoff. They are both former heads of the College Republicans. That’s how they got to know each other way back — I think it was in the early ’80s. And my understanding is that Karl would describe it as more of a casual relationship than a business relationship. That’s what he has said. [White House Press Briefing, 1/17/06]

But excerpts from the House report indicate that there was an extensive business relationship between Rove and Abramoff:


On March 6, 2001, Abramoff wrote in an e-mail to Dennis Stephens that he had a “great meeting” with Karl Rove to discuss an appointment to the Department of Interior. (p. 33)

On April 5, 2002, Abramoff sent an e-mail to his assistant asking the assistant to add to his schedule “a Karl Rove/SagChip breakfast on the 16th at 8 am. Location tbd.” According to the documents, this was an event with Karl Rove and “tribal representatives and leaders” from the Saginaw Chippewa tribe. (p. 37)

In one e-mail to a client, Abramoff expressed the view that Rove did not want to be perceived publicly as taking actions that benefited Abramoff. … “It gives me a lot of cover, which is one of the things Karl was worried about. It does not benefit them to be doing stuff on this publicly for me, as you can imagine, and he was really worried that we would cause a NYT like piece.” (p. 38)