US News & World Report has a big Jack Abramoff piece this week. I’ve followed the Abramoff story closely, and this installment is a pretty familiar rehash of the basic narrative. But a couple of things in it struck me. One is that the Justice Department has been poring through fully 500,000 of Abramoff’s emails. That’s a reminder of just how much of the conservative lobbyist’s enthralling secret world remains unrevealed, despite all the national coverage to date. (It’s also a reminder of Sam Rosenfeld’s understandable surprise at why Democrats on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee haven’t released more Abramoff emails and generally pushed the story harder.)
And in the wake of Abramoff’s indictment earlier this month for his role in an allegedly fraudulent Florida business deal, there was also this interesting passage on the current state of the DOJ’s investigation into Abramoff’s general lobbying and political activities:
Prosecutors often like to use criminal charges from one inquiry as leverage in another, and that may well happen with the investigation underway in Washington. But people familiar with the investigations say prosecutors aren’t in a big hurry. “There is no need to rush into this thing,” says a person familiar with the Washington inquiry. “It is almost a foregone conclusion that [the grand jury] could indict him anytime [it] wanted to. For now, he spent a night in jail [in relation to the Florida charges]. Let’s see what his mind-set is.” Prosecutors would ultimately like to secure Abramoff’s cooperation, the source added. With more than 40 FBI agents assigned to the case, there is every indication that prosecutors are interested in more than just a couple of lobbyists. The source also confirmed a recent Washington Post report that Scanlon, a former press aide to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, has been in discussions with Justice Department lawyers.
The Washington buzz about Abramoff has subsided for now. But this story is a long way from over. Later today or tomorrow we’ll look at a question that has largely slipped through the media cracks about Abramoff, Tom DeLay, and potential Russian arms dealers. <$NoAd$>