Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Bolton stopped by for a jailhouse visit with Judy Miller before heading off to the UN? So says Arianna.

Maybe he had pity on her and dropped by to leak some new info.

Okay, so where were we on finding examples of contacts and chummification between Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay after February 2001 when DeLay allegedly called Jack into his capitol hill office and told him "I want no more dealings with you"?

This, remember, is the account the Post passed on over the weekend, absent any rebuttal, notwithstanding the voluminous public record showing the claim to be false.

So, to the details.

TPM Reader BB points out the $20,000 that Abramoff and his wife Pamela gave to DeLay's leadership PAC ARMPAC in the 2002 and 2004 campaign cycles. But really Abramoff and his wife and his myriad clients gave so much money that I don't even know where to start.

One example is how Abramoff had the Mississippi Choctaws give $6,000 to TRMPAC. And TRMPAC didn't even come into existence until eight months after the DeLay/Abramoff showdown.

Looking over the data it occurred to me that DeLay may have once again been the victim of sloppy reporting, as news outlet after news outlet continued to claim that he was extremely close to Abramoff even though he had dramatically washed his hands of the man.

On March 25th, 2002, as one example of this lousy reporting, USNews spotlighted the battle of the lobbyists between Haley Barbour and Abramoff and called one of Abramoff's trump cards the fact that he was "a big pal of Rep. Tom DeLay."

The weird thing is that Grover Norquist, who was tight with both DeLay and Abramoff (and got tons of cash funneled to him from the latter), was apparently totally in the dark about the falling out too. In April 2002, for instance, Norquist gushed to the Times about how tight Abramoff was with DeLay. "He walks in to see DeLay and DeLay knows that he is representing clients whose views are in sync with DeLay's views."

If Norquist was so out of the loop, you probably can't blame Tom Hamburger and Jim Vandehei for blowing it too. On May 23rd, 2002, in the The Wall Street Journal, they noted that Abramoff was "helping raise money for Mr. DeLay." And apparently even DeLay wasn't quite clear the relationship had gone sour, since he was still asking Abramoff for free meals that same month.

Even the folks who cover the hill full-time were out of the loop. On August 15th, 2002, writing in the Washington Business Forward, Roll Call's John Bresnahan noted Abramoff's "close ties to prominent conservatives like soon-to-be Majority Leader Tom DeLay" as key to Jack's political juice.

And, yes, a few months later, on December 9th, 2002, The Legal Times still thought DeLay's was Abramoff's "friend and political ally." They may have been thrown off the scent by Bresnahan's poor reporting.

As we got more and more examples of DeLay/Abramoff encounters, I started to think that DeLay might be like one of those people we all know who tries to break it off with an abusive or exploiting love interest, but just can't stick to their guns when the baddie comes back to them with that same old sweet talkin'.

That may have been what happened in June 2003, when, according to the Post, Abramoff got DeLay to write a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton on behalf of his client, the Louisiana Coushattas. DeLay even got it co-signed by Hastert, Blunt and Cantor. Even the lobbyist who Abramoff outwitted with that coup had to marvel at what Jack could make happen. "I do this for a living," V. Heather Sibbison told the Post, "and I have never seen a letter like that before. It was incredibly unusual for that group of people, who do not normally weigh in on Indian issues, to express such a strong opinion about a particular project not in any of their home states."

I'm not sure whether that was just after or just before Abramoff introduced DeLay at that year's College Republican National Convention. But that may have been part of the new romancing.

Not surprisingly, after that summer relapse, by October 16th, 2003, the Post's Juliet Eilperin had gotten the wrong impression and wrote that Abramoff was still a "lobbyist who advises DeLay."

From what I could tell it was only after the law started to come after Abramoff in early 2004 that most reporters finally got it through their thick heads that DeLay didn't want anything to do with the guy.

Later this morning or perhaps closer to noon, I'm going to put up more morsels from our reader research into sundry instances of chumminess between Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff after their alleged made-for-Hollywood parting of ways in February 2001.

But for now I wanted to let you know that we have a new Table for One guest at TPMCafe starting this morning, Andrew Rasiej.

He's running for New York City Public Advocate. And I know the great majority of you don't live in New York or the surrounding area. But I had him on because he's talking about a bundle of issues and ideas about technology and reinventing civic life in the United States, ones which are just as relevant in Houston or Cincinnait or San Francisco, and ones which should be of particular interest to many readers of this site.

Stop by the Table for One and see what you think.

As long as we're helping the Washington Post research team find examples of the DeLay friendship after February 2001, I almost forgot about his free-mealing privileges at Signatures. We don't know if DeLay was a Signatures-Free-Mealer at Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's clip. But in May 2002 DeLay did ask Abramoff to set him, his wife and four pals up for a special table and a free meal.

UhOh, more post-Feb 2001 DeLay-Abramoff chumminess. This from the Times, April 3rd, 2002 ...

Mr. Abramoff's rising influence is also illustrative of another trend in lobbying: success can be built on a strong relationship between a lobbyist and a single, powerful lawmaker. His interest in raising money for Republicans and conservative causes is the foundation of Mr. Abramoff's relationship with Mr. DeLay, who is determined to meld the lobbyists on K Street here into the Republican Party's political, legislative and fund-raising operations.

Mr. Abramoff described the bond this way: "We are the same politically and philosophically. Tom's goal is specific -- to keep Republicans in power and advance the conservative movement. I have Tom's goal precisely."

Mr. Norquist, who is friendly with both men, said of Mr. Abramoff, "He walks in to see DeLay and DeLay knows that he is representing clients whose views are in sync with DeLay's views."

This came to us courtesy <$NoAd$> of TPM Reader AP.

So yesterday we asked readers to come up with examples which belie Tom DeLay's claim -- printed unrebutted yesterday in the Washington Post -- that he washed his hands of Jack Abramoff after a confrontation in his office in February 2001.

So far we've only heard from readers who were online and willing to do a bit of research late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. But we've already got some pretty good material, a few examples of which we'll list here in reverse chronological order ...

TPM Reader JJ points us to a February 11th, 2004 piece in Roll Call that reported a power conclave at Abramoff's Signatures restaurant in which DeLay and his crew of staffers-turned-lobbyists discussed a possible crackdown on trade organizations hiring Democrats ...

At a dinner hosted by GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff a few blocks from the Capitol at Signatures - a Republican hot spot that features a drink called "The Lobbyist" - DeLay chewed over the topic with a group of lobbyists that included his own former chief of staff, a one-time top aide to Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and a trusted adviser to Hastert.


Those who attended the dinner included Susan Hirschmann of Williams & Jensen, Gregg Hartley of Cassidy & Associates, Dan Mattoon of Podesta Mattoon, and Abramoff, a lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig LLC. Paxon, now a lobbyist with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, was invited but did not attend the session.

Another reader pointed us to a June 12th 2002 piece in Roll Call about DeLay's daughter baby shower at which Abramoff and then-associate Tony Rudy were guests.

And of course there's Abramoff's continuing maxed-out donations to DeLay and his PACs after that date.

Keep sending us in examples.

WaPo:"'We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic,' said another U.S. official familiar with policymaking from the beginning, who like some others interviewed would speak candidly only on the condition of anonymity. 'That process is being repeated all over.'"

Admittedly, it's Saturday night. But this is a great question for collaborative research. And I suspect some of you are ready to dig in even now.

This passage comes, unrebutted, in today's Washington Post ...

DeLay's association with Abramoff clearly has become a concern for those in the majority leader's camp. In recent months, DeLay has been distancing himself from Abramoff. Earlier this year, DeLay told a group of conservative supporters at a private meeting that sometime shortly after SunCruz Casinos founder Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was gunned down in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Feb. 6, 2001, he confronted Abramoff over his SunCruz involvement, according to people in attendance.

"Immediately, he had Abramoff called in and told him, 'I want no more dealings with you,' " said conservative activist Paul M. Weyrich, a longtime DeLay friend, recounting a speech DeLay gave to a conservative group earlier this year. "I think he felt blindsided by Abramoff" over the SunCruz affair, Weyrich said.

So DeLay has staked his game on February 6th, 2001, four and a half years ago.

There's a lot of information <$NoAd$> publicly available online. Political contributions, newspaper articles, party websites, etc. I suspect there's a lot out there about DeLay's post February 2001 chumminess with Abramoff. If you find examples, let us know.

First time as farce, second time as farce too?

With President Bush again stating that force is still on the table against Iran, albeit only as the last resort, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has kicked off his uphill reelection drive with an attack on President Bush's Middle Eastern belligerence.

All of this, of course, provides an uncanny replay of the build up to the US invasion of Iraq with the German Chancellor leveraging reelection on the axis of President Bush's warmongering.

(ed.note: My literary powers failed me when I tried to come up with a joke suitably humorous and grim to fully capture the ridiculousness of President Bush's continued insistence that he is willing to use force but only as a last resort. Perhaps someone out there can help?)