A draft report from the House Government Reform committee, to be released this morning, says that indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff had many more connections to the Bush Administration than the White House had originally reported. Abramoff’s billing records and emails indicate that, over a three year period, he had 485 lobbying contacts with the White House. 10 of those contacts were with Karl Rove.ABC News obtained an exclusive preview of the report. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reports that evidence suggests some of the contacts may rise to the level of criminal activity. Stephanopoulos says. “There will be some questions about whether or not these concert tickets, meals, drinks offered to White House official violated the gift ban. That’s going to be something at issue. There does seem to be, as I said, circumstantial evidence that Abramoff did get what he wanted on behalf of his clients.”
On MSNBC’s Countdown, Lawrence O’Donnell provided early analysis of the Abramoff report. Keith Olbermann asked O’Donnell how this report may affect public opinion prior to November’s midterm elections, and O’Donnell concluded:
“Abramoff is now the way you spell the word ‘scandal’ in Washington, DC. The public doesn’t know a great deal about Abramoff but they know he’s bad. They know he’s a criminal. They’re certainly aware that he’s, in effect, pleading guilty and is going to end up in jail. And now, this is a picture that says, not only did he have access — which I think the public was vaguely aware that he had presidential access, White House access — he had the run of the place. He has a frequency of appearance now that looks like he had a White House pass.
“It’s an amazing presence that he has everywhere in the Republican world during the time that this scandal was developing. Guys like Conrad Burns, Senator from Montana, running for election and his big problem is that he took money from Jack Abramoff. That’s his single biggest problem. For Karl Rove, the president’s senior advisor, to be meeting with Abramoff 9 times, specifically by himself — and, by the way, possibly much more than that. That’s probably just the 9 times that Abramoff signed in to meet Rove. Once in the building he could have easily have encountered him many, many more times than that. This brings this horrible scandal into the White House and plants it in a way that we haven’t seen before.”
The following video report contains news clips from ABC World News Tonight, ABC Good Morning America, and MSNBC Countdown.