The Secret Service on Friday revealed four more visits to the White House in 2001 by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, including one to see a domestic policy aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.
The newly released records of Abramoff’s access to the White House bring the total number of his known visits to seven.
One Abramoff White House visit, according to Secret Service logs, was on April 20, 2001, to see Cesar Conda, at the time Cheney’s assistant for domestic policy.
Five days after the Conda meeting, one of Abramoff’s former lobbying colleagues, Patrick Pizzella, was nominated by the president as assistant secretary of labor. The Secret Service logs do not state why Abramoff met with Conda.
One log entry indicates Abramoff visited the White House residence on Dec. 10, 2001, for two hours, as part of a large holiday party.
The Secret Service entry for Abramoff’s name that day reads, “POTUS,” “WH,” “RESIDENCE,” and lists the number of people present as 326, according to the documents. POTUS refers to the president of the United States.
The Secret Service material surfaced as a result of lawsuits by the conservative organization Judicial Watch and the Democratic National Committee. An earlier Secret Service search turned up just two Abramoff White House visits, and a further search turned up the additional contacts.
Groups vow to keep up pressure
Judicial Watch said the public has a right to know “why an admitted felon had appointments with the Bush White House.” The DNC said it will aggressively pursue additional questions about visits to the White House by Abramoff and his lobbying associates.
The government is asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuits, but another group that is suing, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, says it will also seek more information on the visits.
Abramoff has pleaded guilty in an influence-peddling scandal and is cooperating with a wide-ranging Justice Department probe of alleged corruption on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch.
A former White House aide, David Safavian, was convicted in a trial last month for covering up his relationship with Abramoff. Safavian was the Bush administration’s top procurement official until his arrest last year.
Abramoff’s other previously undisclosed trips to the White House complex in 2001 were on March 1 and May 17. Both were to meetings in the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House.
It has been previously known that Abramoff was in the White House on May 9, 2001, when President Bush had his photograph taken with an Indian tribal official who was an Abramoff client.
The Secret Service earlier disclosed White House visits by Abramoff on Jan. 20, 2004, the day Bush delivered his State of the Union address, and on March 6, 2001.