In the email, dated Feb. 27, 2001, Abramoff reprimands a colleague who asked him to use Susan Ralston – Special Assistant to the President George W. Bush and then-Bush senior adviser Karl Rove – to arrange a meeting with the President for one of his clients.
In response, Abramoff writes that Ralston and he have an “agreement with her as to what we are going to ask her and when.”
Prior to joining the White House staff, Ralston was Abramoff’s assistant at the lobbying giant Greenberg Traurig. Prior to Greenberg, she had also worked with Abramoff at the lobbying shop Preston Gates & Ellis.
“This is not the proper way to go about this,” Abramoff writes when a colleague suggests that he approach Ralston himself about setting up a meeting for a client and the President, through Rove. “Susan is not going to be able to do things like this, and we have an agreement with her as to what we are going to ask her and when.”
The email was obtained by RAW STORY from an individual close to the federal investigation that has netted Abramoff, several of his staff, members of Congress and Bush Administration officials in a wide-ranging bribery probe. Coming just a month after the Bush Administration took office, it suggests that Abramoff's relationship with the White House began earlier and was more substantial than has previously been disclosed.
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Certain parts of the email have been redacted to protect individuals not under investigation.
The White House has previously denied any significant relationship between Bush administration officials and Abramoff.
Asked about the nature of the agreement last Tuesday, Abramoff’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, declined to comment.
“I can’t comment on any of this,” Lowell said. Ralston did not return calls seeking comment.Ralston told Abramoff, associates to use other email accountsRalston's name previously surfaced in an investigation into deleted White House emails. The emails accounts were hosted on Republican National Committee servers, which some believe were set up as a way to for the White House to avoid Congressional oversight.
In a June 2007 report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 88 White House officials were identified as having had RNC e-mail accounts. Included among them were Ralston and Rove.
Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House is legally obliged to maintain backup records of emails. Because the emails are sent using taxpayer resources, many of them are open to Freedom of Information Act Review. The White House, however, has argued that in an effort to comply with laws that disallow use of government resources for political activities the Republican National Committee set up separate email accounts for numerous Bush Administration officials.