Sunday, April 08, 2007

The White House knew about Kerik BEFORE nominating him...

It turns out that it wasn't just Rudy G. who knew about Bernard Kerik's legal troubles before the rest of us. The Washington Post via MSNBC is reporting that Kerik's legal troubles were known by the White House even before President Bush nominated Kerik to lead the Dept. of Homeland Security.

President Bush was determined to push the nomination through even after Kerik's legal issues were found out by White House aides who were charged with vetting the nominee. Alberto Gonzales also plays a prominent role, conducting several long interviews with Kerik, and then giving the go ahead for the nomination to proceed. The WAPO story makes it clear that it was the President's determination to keep the pick a secret, and to make the announcement quickly that led to Kerik's nomination proceeding. This despite the White House finding out about Kerik's ties with the Mafia and sundry other ethical troubles.
"They knew 100 percent of it," Ray said. "There was no way they didn't. I was driving the ball on that."
The Ray quoted above is Lawrence Ray, who was ratting on Kerik to the FBI starting in 1999, trying to stave off a federal indictment for mafia activities. The White House even had an attorney who worked in the same office which indicted Ray question Kerik. Beyond that the White House also found out about four other illegalities which Kerik is being investigated for. Again, all this was known by the White House before the joint appearance by Kerik and Bush to announce the nomination.

Poor Scott McClellan played the fool on this one too.
The White House explanation has shifted significantly. Just after Kerik withdrew, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that "we have no reason to believe" he lied and that it "would be an inaccurate impression" to say the vetting was rushed. Now current and former White House officials assert that Kerik lied "bald-faced," as one put it, and say they erred by speeding up the nomination.
By "we" McClellan was strictly accurate because neither he, nor any of the reporters he was speaking with were in the know evidently.

So why did they rush the nomination forward? Clearly the President was determined to get his way, and a bit of corruption by the man he wanted wasn't enough to stop him.
"That's a president-of-the-United-States, 'I don't want anyone to know, I want to announce it on Friday' [deal]. It drives people to not follow all the normal procedures."
This actually was one of the first examples of the administrations cavalier attitude about ethics and the Presidents will to have his way no matter what kind of damage he may do to the government he purports to lead.

One is left to wonder though. Is there really no consequence to flow from the President knowing that a person is under suspicion of felonious conduct, and still nominating that person? Aren't there laws about who can or can not serve in the administration? As "they" say... there oughtta be a law! If a person is disqualified to serve in an office, the President may not nominate that person to serve in said office. duh.

I guess we are just very lucky that Congress was in session during this process. I can just imagine the crisis that would have befallen the government if Kerik had been installed via a recess appointment.

i don't think it was a matter of playing the fool or that a little taint of corruption didn't matter... none of the negatives were even considered... what REALLY counted was the prospect of, first, unwavering bush loyalty, and, second, unquestioning commitment to republican ideology... as long as bernie kerik professed that, no problem...

the obvious and more compelling question to me is, how many OTHER vetting processes have been short-circuited in order to fast-track bushco and republican party loyalists, qualifications and background be damned...? my guess...? a lot...
Bush didn't care about any of that. He assumed his boot-licking congress would ink up the old rubber stamp. It stunned him when congress balked. I think this may have been the 'beginning of the end' for him, he was just too arrogant and dense to realize it.
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