The Secret Service is covering up details of White House visits by scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff, releasing altered records that omit visits already acknowledged by the White House.
Secret Service records made public Wednesday show convicted lobbyist Abramoff went to the White House just twice in the past five years,
But the White House has already admitted at least three other visits and sources say there were many more.
The visits occurred on Jan. 20, 2004, the day President Bush delivered his State of the Union address, and on March 6, 2001. Abramoff stayed a total of 63 minutes, 29 seconds, but the records do not indicate where he went in the complex or who he met.
The documents are, by the White House’s acknowledgment, an incomplete accounting of Abramoff’s meetings with administration officials.
Copies of the Secret Service logs were released in connection with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which had been seeking the records to determine the frequency of Abramoff’s contacts with President Bush and others in his administration.
Judicial Watch said the records are incomplete, noting that similar logs released during the Clinton administration included more details.
“We therefore have reason to believe there are additional details about Jack Abramoff’s visits to the White House that have not been disclosed,” the group’s president, Tom Fitton, said on its Web site.
“However, now we know there are at least two visits by admitted felon Jack Abramoff that the White House must explain. What was Jack Abramoff doing at the White House? With whom did he meet?”
A letter accompanying the Secret Service logs claims the two meetings were all that could be found after a computer-generated search.
Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan has said that Abramoff attended Hanukkah receptions at the White House in 2001 and 2002, and some additional staff-level meetings.
A May 9, 2001, photo also shows Bush shaking hands with a leader of an American Indian tribe, with Abramoff in the background.
Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur said the computerized logs have never been considered a complete record of access to the White House and the Old Executive Office Building. Guests arriving for large gatherings often show identification and pass through metal detectors without being issued temporary passes, Mazur said.
“It’s not an all-inclusive record,” Mazur said. Other sources tell Capitol Hill Blue that the Secret Service was ordered by the White House to release incomplete records.
Abramoff pleaded guilty in January in Washington to federal charges stemming from an investigation into his ties with members of Congress and the Bush administration. He also pleaded guilty to fraud charges in Miami concerning a multimillion-dollar purchase of SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet in 2000.
On the Net:
Secret Service: http://www.secretservice.gov/
Judicial Watch: http://judicialwatch.org