Bush aide passed sensitive information to Abramoff

A Bush administration official gave sensitive inside information to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, warning him the government was about to suspend the
federal contracts to one of his clientsclient, newly filed court papers say.

Safavian, a former top procurement officer, provided “sensitive and confidential information” about four
subsidiaries of Tyco International to Abramoff regarding internal
deliberations at the General Services Administration, say the court
papers filed Friday in a criminal case against Safavian.

has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud in a
burgeoning bribery probe centered on Capitol Hill but also involving
the Interior Department.

The White House is refusing to release
photographs of President Bush and Abramoff or to reveal what contact
Abramoff had with White House aides.

Acting on the information
that Abramoff provided the company in November 2003, Tyco lawyer
Timothy Flanigan, a former assistant attorney general in the Bush
administration, contacted the general counsel to the GSA and asked for
an opportunity to address the suspension.

The company revealed Flanigan’s role in a statement.

October, Flanigan withdrew his nomination to be Bush’s deputy attorney
general. His confirmation was delayed due to questions about his
dealings with Abramoff when Abramoff was a Tyco lobbyist.

The government had planned to suspend Tyco because of alleged criminal conduct by former Tyco executives.

advising Abramoff about the internal deliberations at GSA, Safavian
suggested to Abramoff what arguments Tyco should make when it appealed
the suspension decision, the court papers in Safavian’s federal court
case say.

Once tipped off by Abramoff, Tyco hired an outside law
firm and successfully petitioned the government to lift the suspension
and allow Tyco to continue to perform on government contracts.

law firm outlined “the many steps that Tyco had taken, including to
bring on a new board of directors, a new CEO and new corporate senior
management,” Tyco said in its statement.

Safavian faces trial on
charges that he lied and obstructed investigations into whether he
aided Abramoff in efforts to acquire GSA-controlled property around the
nation’s capital.

The government said in its court filing Friday
that it intends to present the information regarding Tyco at Safavian’s
upcoming trial. Safavian has pleaded innocent and his lawyers have
moved for dismissal of all charges.

Safavian is accused of
concealing from federal investigators that Abramoff was seeking to do
business with the GSA when Safavian joined the lobbyist on a golf trip
to Scotland in 2002. At the time, Safavian was GSA’s chief of staff. He
became the Bush administration’s chief procurement official in November

In its statement, Tyco said that the information from
Abramoff had come in unsolicited, that the corporation did not use
Abramoff’s services to respond to GSA, and that the company did not
contact Safavian directly.

The company said its outside counsel,
George Terwilliger, was assured by Justice Department prosecutors that
neither the company nor anyone at the company, including Flanigan, is
accused, is suspected or is being investigated for any wrongdoing.

In May 2003, Abramoff, then employed by the Washington firm Greenberg Traurig, solicited Tyco for lobbying on a tax issue.

say Abramoff recommended that Tyco hire both him and a public relations
and campaign consulting firm called GrassRoots Interactive, but hid
from Tyco that GrassRoots Interactive was his business.

In May
and June 2003, Tyco paid GrassRoots Interactive, directly and through
Greenberg Traurig’s bank account, about $1.8 million, of which about
$1.6 million went to Abramoff and entities he controlled, prosecutors