The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, January 25, 2006  

Time to Come Clean on Abramoff

The Washington Post today published a thoughtful editorial about the White House’s response to reporters’ inquiries about admitted felon Jack Abramoff was doing, or trying to do, during his meetings with administration staff members.

In a retort to Scott McClellan’s stonewalling, expressed thusly, “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,” the editors write (“Mr. Abramoff’s Meetings”):

This is not a tenable position. It’s undisputed that Mr. Abramoff tried to use his influence, and his restaurant and his skyboxes and his chartered jets, to sway lawmakers and their staffs. Information uncovered by Mr. Bush’s own Justice Department shows that Mr. Abramoff tried to do the same inside the executive branch.

Under these circumstances, asking about Mr. Abramoff’s White House meetings is no mere exercise in reportorial curiosity but a legitimate inquiry about what an admitted felon might have been seeking at the highest levels of government. Whatever White House officials did or didn’t do, there is every reason to believe that Mr. Abramoff was up to no good and therefore every reason the public ought to know with whom he was meeting.

It’s hard to believe details about Abramoff’s White House meetings will not become public at some point, and for all we know now, it was all in a lobbyist’s day’s work. Still, you’ve got to wonder what’s being held back, and why, while at the same time enjoying the discomfort of the likes of McClellan.

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