Jury to Safavian: Don’t Play Us for Chumps

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There’s one simple thing to take away from the verdict against David Safavian: for a player in Washington, gullibility is no defense. It’s Washington; savviness is the name of the game. Safavian tried wide-eyed innocence — let’s call it the Forest Gump defense — and it didn’t fly.

Safavian swore under oath that Abramoff had flown him to Scotland on a golf junket as a buddy, essentially, and not as his inside man, his “champion” at the General Services Administration. And when Abramoff told him that his share of the lavish, week-long trip amounted to $3,100, he didn’t think anything of it, because Abramoff was his pal.

Naivete didn’t play well for Safavian, a former lobbyist and high-ranking official. The heart of the trial was his cross-examiniation, when prosecutors vividly illustrated the delusion necessary to construe a lobbyist’s gifts as anything other than a bid for influence and access. Safavian testified that he just didn’t see it that way. And the jury didn’t believe him.

That has to be bad news for future targets of the Abramoff investigation, such as Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who will eventually find himself, most likely, attempting to explain to a jury how he, in Forest Gump style, just happened to wander his way into a relationship with Abramoff.