The Pimping of the Presidency
Go read Dubose.
Then Read Scott McClellan's comments from two days ago.
Q In light of the Abramoff deal, what's the President, or White House surrogates on his behalf doing to talk about lobby reform on the Hill?
MR. McCLELLAN: Lobby reform?
Q Yes, lobbying reform.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll keep you posted if there's anything. In terms of what took place yesterday with Mr. Abramoff, I talked about that yesterday. He entered a plea where he acknowledged being involved in wrongdoing. It's a serious matter. It was outrageous what he was engaged in. And he needs to be held accountable, and he needs to be punished. And he's going to be punished. The Justice Department continues to investigate this matter. I'm not going to speculate beyond what has been acknowledged by Mr. Abramoff at this point. So let's let the investigation proceed.
Q Leaving aside the specifics of the Abramoff case, is the President concerned that there's a culture of favors --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're speculating based on facts that aren't known at this point.
Q I'm not talking about Abramoff, I'm talking about the way business is done.
MR. McCLELLAN: And I don't think you -- well, I just -- I'm not going to speculate regarding this ongoing investigation, but I don't think you can draw broad characterizations at this point based on what you know.
Q So he's happy with the way lobbyists do business with Congress?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, you just said that. That's not what he said. He's made it very clear that -- and he spoke out when we had a congressman admit to wrongdoing just recently and talked about how unacceptable and outrageous that is. Elected officials must adhere to the highest ethical standards. And we'll continue to speak out about the importance of doing so. And it's up to those officials to make the right decisions.
Q Scott, Abramoff raised more than $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney campaign, and the campaign has given back, like, $6,000. Why aren't they giving back more?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you might want to talk to the RNC to get the specifics. That's my understanding, is that Mr. Abramoff and his wife, and a tribal interest that he represented had contributed that money. And this is keeping -- consistent with past practice of the campaign. If people are involved in wrongdoing, they return that money that that person contributed, or donate it to a specific charity. In this case, I understand that they're going to be donating that money to the American Heart Association.
Q But you don't think the rest of the money that he brought in --
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you suggesting that there are others that were involved in wrongdoing? If you want to bring that to my attention, and I'll refer it to the RNC.
Q I'm asking if the money that he gave --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think it's our past practice, or the past practice of the campaign has been what I described. If people are involved in wrongdoing -- I think there's been very few instances of that, one or two maybe where money has been donated to a charity that that individual gave to the campaign.
Q Well, I guess, the question is, though, since he raised the money and you don't know what was involved in raising that money, does that not put a taint or a cloud over it?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that it's keeping with past practice, and they took the appropriate step.
Q But Hastert is giving all of it back.
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, John.
Q But have you been able to more clearly determine whether the President ever met Abramoff at any of these White House --
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I talked about this earlier today, maybe you weren't here earlier this morning, but -- when I talked to some of your colleagues.
Q I thought you said he might have been, but I'm just wondering --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said it's possible that they would have met at a holiday reception or some other widely attended gathering. The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him.
Q But he has the special designation as a Pioneer, as Terry was alluding to, raising more than $100,000. And he attended, as you told us, three events, holiday receptions at the White House. How likely is it that the President would not have met him --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said it's possible. But I just told you what I know at this point, and the President doesn't recall meeting him and he certainly doesn't know him.
Q Will you release -- go ahead.
Q Since you often take photos in those instances at receptions, will you make that available?
MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't thought about that. I'll take it under consideration.
Q How about the logs of the people -- how many times he came into the White House?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I'm checking into that. I said I'd check into that -- I think someone asked that question the other day. I think it's very few times that he's been here, in addition to any holiday receptions.