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Democrats ask White House to turn over Abramoff-related documents

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the ranking Democrat on the Government Reform Committee, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), have asked White House counsel Harriet Miers to provide Congress with documents relating to lobbyist Jack Abramoff's request for $9 million to arrange a meeting between President Bush and the President of Gabon, RAW STORY has learned.

The New York Times reported in Thursday's paper that President Bush met with Gabon's President Omar Bongo in May 2004, ten months after lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked President Bongo for $9 million to arrange such a meeting.

The White House said the meeting was part of an outreach to African leaders and that Abramoff played no role in the deal.

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Their letter follows.

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November 11, 2005

Ms. Harriet Miers
Counsel to the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Ms. Miers:

Yesterday's New York Times reported that President Bush met with Gabon's President Omar Bongo in May 2004, ten months after lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked President Bongo for $9 million to arrange such a meeting. Mr. Abramoff's offer and the size of the requested payment raise questions about what role Mr. Abramoff may have played in the scheduling of this meeting between President Bush and President Bongo.

We are writing to request that you provide us with all White House and State Department documents and correspondence regarding the arrangement of the meeting.

According to the Times, a draft agreement between Mr. Abramoff and Gabon dated August 7, 2003, asked for $9 million in lobbying fees to pay for a "public relations effort related to promoting Gabon and securing a visit for President Bongo with the President of the United States."[1] The Times reports that this draft agreement came just 10 days after Mr. Abramoff wrote to President Bongo on July 28, 2003, suggesting that "he had unusual influence to arrange a meeting with President Bush." In that letter, Mr. Abramoff noted: "Without advance resources, I have been cautiously working to obtain a visit for the president to Washington to see President Bush."

White House spokesman Trent Duffy told the Times that arrangements for the visit by the President of Gabon were not unusual and went through "normal staffing channels." However, it is impossible for Congress and the public to assess this assertion without access further documentation from the White House.

We therefore request the following documents:

All records relating to any contacts or communications between White House staff and Jack Abramoff, the firm Greenberg Traurig, and the firm GrassRoots Interactive regarding a visit by representatives of Gabon.

All records relating to any contacts or communications between the State Department and Jack Abramoff, the firm Greenberg Traurig, and the firm GrassRoots Interactive regarding a visit by representatives of Gabon.

All records relating to any direct contacts or communications between White House staff and representatives of Gabon.

All records relating to any direct contacts or communications between the State Department and representatives of Gabon.

We request that you provide these materials by November 30, 2005.

Sincerely,

Nancy Pelosi
House Democratic Leader

Henry A. Waxman Ranking Member Government Reform Committee

Originally published on Friday November 11, 2005

 


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