Abramoff, Rove and Ralston

Continuing on from these posts about Jack Abramoff reporting to prison Wednesday, and ABC News' report (apparently now pulled, cached version here) that Abramoff is cooperating against Karl Rove, I located these items:

  • The House Government Reform Committee's Abramoff Investigation Page with the actual e-mails Abramoff sent and received -- with bate stamp numbers

If you go to page 32 of the report, it details the e-mails from Abramoff to Rove, some of which involve Susan Ralston, Rove's assistant who recently resigned and who used to work for Abramoff. From the report:

The documents describe ten contacts between Abramoff and Rove, seven of which were instances of lobbying. According to the documents, nine of the contacts occurred after the inauguration of President Bush, and one occurred before the inauguration. These ten instances are described below.

The documents also contain e-mails that Abramoff sent to Rove or that describe calls he said he placed to Rove, but for which there is no evidence that Rove responded by e-mail or spoke with p. Abramoff by phone. These communications are not p. counted as separate lobbying contacts, but are included in the chronology where relevant.

What do some of these e-mails say?

In one, there's no question Abramoff was soliciting Rove's help.

On February 21, 2001, in advance of the meeting with Rove, Abramoff sent an e-mail to his entire department at Greenberg, stating: “I have a meeting this Thursday with Karl Rove. I am going to restrict my discussion to things which are very important to us, but I wanted to solicit from you a list of items for the agenda. Please let me know if you have any such items.”

The morning of the meeting with Rove, Abramoff sent an e-mail to his assistant asking the assistant to print the following agenda for the “Rove meeting”:

1. OIA position – Zack

2. pro free market Indian agenda – Tim Martin

3. Norton – ANWR

4. Florida – Bush anti-cruise

5. Glen Nager

6. Miller/dodd proposals out of house/senate education bills – new federal mandates – anti local control

7. how can I help


After the meeting, Abramoff drafted the following thank you note to Rove:

Dear Karl, Thanks for taking the time to see me this week. Per our discussion, attached please find a paper on the Miller amendment to the Education bill. I appreciate anything you can do regarding the candidates we discussed.

Now, up to March, 2002:

On March 12, 2002, Abramoff sent an e-mail to Susan Ralston describing his seeing Rove at an event and offering an invitation to Rove to join him at an NCAA tournament game:

I just saw Karl at the KOMPAC reception and mentioned the NCAA opportunity, which he was really jazzed about it. If he wants to join us in the Pollin box, please let me know as soon as you can, since it’s filling up. The invite is good for others who might want to come as well.

Followed by:

March 17, 2002: On March 18, Abramoff wrote in an e-mail that he was “sitting yesterday with Karl Rove … at the NCAA basketball game discussing Israel” when an e-mail about a suicide bomber attack came in.148 When Tony Rudy inquired on March 17, 2002, whether Abramoff got “anything interesting” out of Rove, Abramoff replied “Not really,” but that he “touched base on all issues,” including “about Jena.”149 Abramoff added:
he’s set to help us when we need it. … He’s a great guy. Told me anytime we need something just let him know through susan.150

On pages 84 and 85 of the report, details emerge about Karl Rove's acceptance of tickets to sports games in Abramoff's Sports Suite box, which apparently was paid for by Abramoff's clients.

Page 39 of the report analyzes Susan Ralston's involvement. The Washington Post reported on the day she resigned:

A senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the counsel's office reached no conclusion about whether Ralston violated gift limits because her resignation made the point moot. But the official said there were "mitigating circumstances" in her case because she had a preexisting relationship with Abramoff, for whom she worked before joining the White House. The official said the White House made no criminal referral in her case. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

As to Rove, the article reported:

The bipartisan report said there is no evidence that Rove knew of or approved of Ralston's actions, and sources said yesterday that the White House was surprised by the report's revelations.

So, the question is, has Abramoff or Ralston been supplying additional information about Rove since the report was released? Or, is Abramoff now just targeting Democrats?

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    wha? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by smiley on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 10:31:53 AM EST
    As to Rove, the article reported:

    The bipartisan report said there is no evidence that Rove knew of or approved of Ralston's actions, and sources said yesterday that the White House was surprised by the report's revelations.

    but... she worked for him, right?  In his office, right?  And everything she did, she did it because he told her to do it, right?

    So how could this "no evidence Rove knew" be anything other than a bald-faced lie?

    Abramoff (none / 0) (#1)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 07:35:27 AM EST
     obviously wanta a 35 (b) motion and the sooner the better from his standpoint. It's just the opposite from DOj perspective-- the longer they can keep the carrot dangling the greater assurance he will continue to cooperate.

      If one is going to go the "snitch" route, as he obviously is, it is incumbent to be completely straightforward because a substantial assistance motion can only be filed by the government and DOJ can decline to file even in the presence of a tremnedous volume of unquestioned truthful information if the defendant misleads or withholds information as to even something minor. (Actually, they can witthold the motion even without that but don't do so because "screwing" folks like that would, of course, cause other defendants to be less likely to cooperate and the system is basically structured around coercing cooperation.)

      It's a safe bet that Abramoff is telling DOJ anything it wants to know about anyone in whom it is interested and probably folks in whom DOj is not all that interested. The more intriguing questions concern what can and will be done with the information. How much corroborating evidence can be gathered? How reliable is it? Etc.

      As a practical matter, the bigger the fish the higher the "confidence level" DOJ requires to prosecute. To initiate prosecution against someone high in the Administration or Congress, DOJ will need to be convinced there is an overwhelming likelihood of conviction. It's an over-simplification to some extent but it is not inaccurate to say a big shot is more likely to be a target but less likely to be a defendant than a lesser-shot.


    All hail, the return of Rubik's Cube! (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 08:32:00 AM EST
    Missed you.

    And, TL, nice catch on the emails.

    But seriously, and partly in response to Decon, I'm wondering about the "substantial assistance".  I mean, who's been convicted based on what Jack told the feds?  And, what part of the scheme has been unraveled because of what Jack told the feds?  As opposed to what they've been able to figure out from reading all his (multitudinous) electronic mail.

    Is he targeting Democrats, or is DoJ?  Remember, the Criminal Divison is being run by a recess appointment, someone whose name escapes me as I write but whose reputation (which I learned about when her appointment first crossed the news) is as a political hack, not a career law-enforcement type.  There has been since that appointment, to my nose, a whiff of politicized prosecutorial discretion - otherwise, inter alia, why not seek any cooperation from Duke Cunningham before sending him to prison?  (DoJ didn't seek anything from him, even though he was in up to his neck with a bunch of others...).

    As to the "substantial assistance" being a government-only motion, I recall reading there was some ferment in that area post-Blakely/Booker, in that judges are now required to consider all the subsections of the statute, not just the guidelines (which comprise only one subsection).  There were a number of cases I recall reading about where defendants filed, as a part of their sentencing papers and arguments, what were in effect applications for the Court to give them credit for their substantial assistance even where the government had not.  Prof. Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy had covered those;  I don't recall whether any appeals courts had definitively decided the issue.

    Further, as to Jack seeking time off, remember, he had one of the all-time great sentencing memoranda.  And, there's that Florida case out there, complete with a dead body, a couple mob guys, gunfire and a huge fraud all wound up in it.  Unless the government brings in Rove and half the Republican caucus on the strength of Jack's snitching, I think he's probably gotten all the sentencing benefit he's going to see.  As or more likely in this partisan environment (particularly as regards the voter reaction to corruption a week or so ago), I see Jack singing, and the government gathering wool (at least as to Republicans), then bringing a few showy prosecutions timed and located for maximum voter effect in 2008.  The wool-gathering keeps the Repug caucus in line;  step off the party line, there's a threat of indictment floating in the air.

    One can't be too cynical with this crowd.


    A few things (none / 0) (#3)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 08:37:41 AM EST
      Convictions or even indictments are not necessary for 35 (b) motions. It is entirely discretionary with DOJ as to whether to make the motion (obviously "results" are a key consideration in tghat decision and also the more results the more likelihood the judge will grant a large reduction.

      You are correct that post=Booker, jusdges are not bound by the guideline range and can consider all relevant information BUT and this is a HUGE BUT:


      to get his sentence reduced he has to get before the sentencing court and the federal  district court has no jurisdiction to reconsider his sentence sua sponte or upon a defense motion as is often the case in state courts.

      Abranoff is only getting back  before the court if the government makes a Rule 35 (b) motion.

    true, but (none / 0) (#6)
    by scribe on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 10:48:06 AM EST
    has he been sentenced on the Florida case, too?

     The D.C. case is the one pending but in that one he and DOJ stipulated that they will BOTH recommend ro the Court that a guideline sentence ishould be imposed because it is "reasonable" and that the sentence should run concurrent to the Florida sentence which he is now serving.

      Abramoff is therefore pretty much hemmed in on that because if he repudiates the agreement to concur that he should get a sentence withing the guideline ranege then DOJ could not only not file a 35 (b) but could argue that it has the option to declare the agreement void due to Abramoff's breach and take him to trial on as many charges as it can dream up.

      He absoulately needs a Rule 35 (b) motion to have any realistic shot of things getting better for him.


    re (none / 0) (#5)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 10:43:44 AM EST
      You overstate the case a degree (Bosses rarely know everything an employee does and it's not accurate to say everything an employee does is because the boss told her to do it), but it does seem hard to believe that Rove did not know of Ralston's dealings with Abramoff for precisely the reason the WH somehow spins as a "mitigating circumstance" -- Ralston was a former Abramoff employee and what other conceivable expalantion is there for how she got such a high-level job in the WH?

      As is often done here, the bipartisan report seems to rely  on the fallacy that circumstantial evidence, no matter how obviously compelling,  is not evidence. That the principals denied Rove's knowledge and other witnesses stated thay had no first hand knowledge of it is NOT the same as saying no "there is no evidence" he knew. The evidence he knew is as you suggest abundant and in the absence of creible refutation highly persuasive.