Okay, let's fill in a few of the blank spaces in this new Post article about Jack Abramoff and Karl Rove.
The story, as we get it in today's article, is that Timothy E. Flanigan is the General Counsel of Tyco and now President Bush's nominee for Deputy Attorney General. A couple years ago when Tyco was interested in fending off legislation that might have required them to pay their taxes, Abramoff was hired to do a little of his magic for them and get Tyco off the hook. Abramoff reported to Flanigan on the account. And in the course of that work he first boasted of his juice with Karl Rove and later claimed he had in fact contacted Rove about Tyco's needs.
But this Newsweek article from a few weeks ago notes that Flanigan worked at the White House before he went to Tyco. In fact, he was Deputy White House Counsel. And Abramoff didn't just report to Flanigan. Flanigan hired Abramoff.
Now, the Post piece treats it as an open question whether Abramoff was just puffing or blowing smoke, as lobbyists sometimes will, when he talked about his ties to Rove and his ability to get action from him.
But Flanigan had already been Deputy White House Counsel. That tells me he knew pretty well how the Bush White House operated and the juice Abramoff had there. The odds that Abramoff just bamboozled Flanigan seem surpassingly low.
Another point ...
In the Newsweek article from a month ago, a spokesman said on Rove's behalf that he had "never spoken to [Abramoff] about any of his clients." In today's Post piece the spokesman says Rove "has no recollection" of Abramoff's contacting him about Tyco.
I'm told that in the clinical literature this is called the 'Safavian effect'.
And one more point ...
The Post reports that Flanigan says that if he's confirmed as Deputy AG he'll recuse himself from any decisions relating to Abramoff and Tyco. Imagine that.
The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section is involved in a massive investigation of Abramoff, his business affairs and his ties to major Republican political figures like Rove and Tom DeLay. The investigation has already led to the arrest of one White House official. Abramoff himself has been indicted in a case that is nominally separate from the Washington investigation but is in fact closely tied to it.
Flanigan worked at the White House. He then left the White House, only to turn around and hire Abramoff to lobby the White House and Rove in particular.
Somebody tell me with a straight face that this guy can ethically deal with anything tied to the Abramoff case. Face it: from the word go at DOJ this guy has to recuse himself from everything having to do with Abramoff.