Doolittle: I’m Not A Target of Fed Probe

New details are popping up about the Feds’ interest in Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) for his ties to Jack Abramoff. But Doolittle is doing his best to put as bright a face on that as possible.

In a statement yesterday, Doolittle said that he “has no reason to believe that he is the target of an investigation.”

As we’ve noted here before, the “not a target” line is a beloved one for mucked-up pols (Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) used it just last month). It is, of course, a relatively meaningless statement that sounds exonerating. Subjects of an investigation typically only receive target letters from prosecutors as a prelude to indictment. So Doolittle might as well be bragging that he hasn’t been indicted yet.

We’ve known that Doolittle was under investigation for approximately two years. In 2004, investigators subpoenaed the records for his wife’s consulting company (Julie Doolittle worked for Abramoff for two years). And since last November, Doolittle has consistently made the short list of lawmakers reportedly under investigation for their ties to Abramoff (as to why, see here).

Doolittle, via his spokeswoman, also revealed to The Sacramento Bee Monday that his lawyer has spoken several times with the Justice Department.Several meetings with the DoJ? That sounds pretty bad. But that’s just because you’re looking at it the wrong way, Doolittle insists. From the Bee:

Doolittle’s office in a statement late Monday, again insisted that the congressman is not under investigation.

Instead, it characterized the meetings as an effort to clear the congressman’s name.

“The congressman’s attorney has had several conversations with the Justice Department which we believe have been helpful toward clearing the congressman’s name,” said Laura Blackann.

“The congressman’s attorney has committed to the Justice Department that in order to preserve the integrity of the ongoing investigation, details of their interactions will remain private,” she said. “To date, the congressman has not been contacted or questioned by the Justice Department and has no reason to believe that he is the target of an investigation.”

Blackann said Doolittle “instructed his attorney to establish contact with the Justice Department to further express the congressman’s willingness to be helpful and satisfy the Justice Department that the congressman has done nothing wrong.”

Update: I have to mention that when Doolittle’s hiring of a defense lawyer was first reported, he explained that he was paying him simply “to address the congressman’s concerns about how he should respond to questions from the press as he contemplated having to talk about the scandal as part of his campaign for re-election.” To date, Doolittle’s paid Barger approximately $50,000 to handle those press inquiries, according to FEC reports.