Wednesday, January 18, 2006
White House Briefing , January 17, 2005:
Q Scott, what was the subject matter when Jack Abramoff met with staff here?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q What was the subject --
MR. McCLELLAN: I just indicated earlier to Elisabeth's questions that we just don't get into discussing White House staff-level meetings. We never really have.
Q Can you say who Mr. Abramoff was representing when he came in here?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. Again, we don't get into discussing staff-level meetings. If you have something specific to bring to my attention, I'll be glad to try to look into that. But I'm not aware of anything specific that you have.
Q What got him in the door here? How did he qualify for meetings here?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I checked on this. What I was asked is to go and check on this, and I did. And there were only a couple of holiday receptions that he attended, and then a few staff-level meetings on top of that. And that's the way I would describe it.
Now, what I can't do is go and say with absolute certainty that he did not have any other visits. We did a check at your request and what I have learned from that request is exactly what I am telling you.
Q Was it senior staff, at that level?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Would you qualify it as senior staff that he
met with here?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm just saying staff-level meetings is the way I would describe it. And if you have anything specific, I'll be glad to take a look into it.
Q Well, we're counting on you for the specifics --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if there's any reason for me to check into it, please bring it to my attention.
Q He's pled guilty to some serious charges.
MR. McCLELLAN: And so are you insinuating something?
Q We're just trying to find out the facts.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you've got something to bring to my attention, do so, and then I'll be glad to look into it.
Q Scott, that's not a fair burden to place on us. This is a guy who is a tainted lobbyist, and he has connections -- we want to know -- with whom in the White House. You shouldn't demand that we give you something specific to go check it out. I mean, this guy is radioactive in Washington. And he knows guys like Karl Rove. So did he meet with him or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: I know of nothing that --
Q Don't put it on us to bring something specific. It's a specific question about a specific individual.
Q Can you tell us if he met with Karl Rove?
MR. McCLELLAN: Because we don't discuss staff-level meetings --
Q Of course you do, whenever you want to discuss staff-level meetings. And if Karl Rove, who has ties to Ralph Reed, which he does, we want to know if he has ties to Jack Abramoff, and if they met --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I can answer that.
Q Oh, great. Well, before you said --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I mean, about if he knows -- yes, he knows -- he 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.
But if you've got specific matters that I need to look into, it's my point that I think it's your obligation to bring that to my attention and I'll be glad to take a look into it.
Q Well, I don't --
MR. McCLELLAN: There's been no --
Q -- no, no, but I don't think it's our obligation to do anything. If we want to know whether there was pending business that Abramoff represented to members of the staff here at the White House, what do we need --
MR. McCLELLAN: There's been no suggestion of anything like that out of this White House.
Q -- some kind of an affidavit to bring you to --
MR. McCLELLAN: There's been no suggestion of anything like this in this White House.
Q: I'm just asking. I'm not suggesting.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, you're insinuating.
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