As we just noted, Murray Waas is reporting that William Timmons, the head of John McCain’s transition team, was involved in a lobbying effort on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s government in the early 1990s.
At TPMmuckraker, we’ve acquired a copy of the court documents from the 2006 trial of Tongsun Park, one of the lobbyists involved, on which Waas’ report was in part based.
And they shed some crucial light on a key point about Timmons’ involvement in the scheme.
As Waas notes:
Timmons previously told investigators that he did not know that either Vincent or Park were acting as unregistered agents of Iraq. He also insisted that he did not fully understand just how closely the two men were tied to Saddam’s regime while they collaborated.
But testimony and records made public during Park’s criminal trial, as well as other information uncovered during a United Nations investigation, suggest just the opposite.
For instance, court records examined by TPMmuckraker show that Samir Vincent, the other lobbyist involved in the scheme, testified at Park’s trial about a trip he took to Iraq during which he met with Saddam personally, and listened as the Iraqi dictator expressed his desire to have sanctions lifted and normal relations with the U.S. restored.
The prosecutor then asked Vincent: “When you returned to the U.S., did you tell anyone about your visit with Saddam Hussein?”
Vincent replied: “I told Bill Timmons and Tongsun Park.”
Prosecutor: “Why did you tell Bill Timmons about your visit with Saddam?”
Vincent: “To let him know that we were talking to the leader of Iraq, and in essence we have access, and assure him that any messages we were relaying between Iraqi (sic) and Tariq Aziz [a top Saddam aide] and anyone else, it was being transmitted to the president, Saddam Hussein, in Iraq.”
Late Update: As we should have noted, this exchange appears in Waas’ report.