Abramoff Only "The Middle Guy" 13 FBI Field Offices Involved
Sun Jan 8, 2006 19:07


Abramoff Only "The Middle Guy"... 13 FBI Field Offices Involved, Two Dozen Agents Full Time, Two Dozen Part Time…
Time | KAREN TUMULTY | Posted January 8, 2006 02:57 PM

[...] The Coushattas' tale is only a small piece of an investigation that, with the 46-year-old Abramoff's agreement last week to cooperate with federal prosecutors, could become one of the biggest corruption probes in U.S. history, possibly putting dozens of lawmakers in legal or political jeopardy. It has already netted Scanlon, 35, who pleaded guilty to similar charges in November and is also cooperating. In an internal e-mail obtained by Time, the director of the FBI's Washington field office, Michael Mason, congratulated some 15 agents and 15 support staff members under him on the case for "a huge accomplishment" in squeezing Abramoff to make a deal after 18 months of investigation and negotiation, one that made "a huge contribution to ensuring the very integrity of our government." But he added that "the case is far from over."

Another official involved with the probe told Time that investigators are viewing Abramoff as "the middle guy"—suggesting there are bigger targets in their sights. The FBI has 13 field offices across the country working on the case, with two dozen agents assigned to it full time and roughly the same number working part time. "We are going to chase down every lead," Chris Swecker, head of the FBI's criminal division, told Time.

Just following the money that Abramoff spread across Washington should give them plenty to do. So toxic are any campaign donations tied to him that panicked lawmakers from Hastert ($69,000) to Republican Senator Conrad Burns ($150,000) to Democratic Senator Max Baucus ($18,892) can't give it away to charities fast enough. Even President Bush is giving the American Heart Association the $6,000 that he received from Abramoff, his wife and one of the Indian tribes he represented. (See accompanying story.)

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"It's nothing short of breathtaking." Bush quietly undercuts laws with bill-signing statement 08 Jan 2006 Dictator Bush agreed with great fanfare last month to accept a ban on torture, but he later quietly reserved the right to ignore it, even as he signed it into law. Bush said he would interpret the new law in keeping with his expansive view of presidential power. He did it by issuing a bill-signing statement -- a little-noticed device that has become a favorite tool of presidential power in the Bush White House. In fact, Bush has used signing statements to reject, revise or put his spin on more than 500 legislative provisions... "It's nothing short of breathtaking,'' said Phillip Cooper, a professor of public administration at Portland State University. "In every case, the White House has interpreted presidential authority as broadly as possible, interpreted legislative authority as narrowly as possible and pre-empted the judiciary."


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