Monday, May 22, 2006

Safavian trial starts today.

The first Washington trial in the Abramoff situation is beginning. David Safavian is charged with accepting airfare for a Scotland golf trip from Abramoff in 2002 and then with obstructing inquiries into the matter. This is like the golf trips Abramoff gave Congressman Tom DeLay and Congressman Bob Ney. From Bloomberg:
" Safavian is a former colleague of Abramoff's at the lobbying firm Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds in Washington. At the time of the golf trip, he was chief of staff at the General Services Administration, which oversees government property. He later became the top procurement officer in the White House Office of Management and Budget. He resigned in September.

Almost immediately after taking the GSA post, Safavian started receiving e-mails from Abramoff about government properties such as the Old Post Office building in Washington, according to government documents. Sprinkled throughout Abramoff's requests to Safavian for inside information were offers for tickets to sports events, meals at Abramoff's Signatures restaurant and talk about planning racquetball games. "
Abramoff has already pleaded guilty to bribing congressmen and government officials, and he is testifying to the investigators, but the is the first trial. Rather than put Abramoff on the stand subject to cross examination by Defense Lawyers who want to paint him as unreliable the government is expected to use emails between Safavian and Abramoff to present their case.

Safavian thinks he has a case that he did nothing wrong, so he is going to trial instead of simply pleading guilty. This is rather a key case. If the government wins Abramoff is boosted as a witness. If Abramoff does not testify and Safavian wins, Abramoff is not seriously damaged for later cases.

It's going to be an interesting case, and the testimony that comes out will have the chance of adding to what we know of the corruption that Abramoff has been at the center of. That will lead to the heart of the Republican leadership in Congress.

Time to break out the popcorn.

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