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Abramoff Scandal
Ex-Bush official, an Abramoff associate, set for trial

A federal judge today will start the trial of David Safavian, a former Bush administration official charged with lying about his dealings with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Safavian and Abramoff worked together as lobbyists and represented the same tribal clients. When Safavian went to work for the General Services Administration and, later, the White House, the two remained in close contact about tribal and other issues.

But Safavian is not charged in connection with any lobbying activities. He is charged with lying to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and to investigators about the details surrounding Abramoff's infamous 2002 Scotland golf trip that was partly funded with tribal money.

Safavian asked the GSA whether he could take the trip and said it was being arranged by a lobbyist who had no dealings before the agency. But prosecutors point out that Abramoff was seeking to take control of two GSA properties at the time.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee, during the course of its investigation of Abramoff, asked Safavian about the trip as well. Prosecutors allege his response hindered the probe.

Safavian was the first person arrested and charged in connection with the Abramoff scandal. His lawyer has said he was charged to pressure him into cooperating with the investigation. He has refused to plead guilty to any charges, proclaiming his innocence.

The trial start at 9:30am in the federal district court in Washington before Judge Paul L. Friedman. It is expected to last five days.

Neil Volz, a former Congressional staffer who pleaded guilty and is cooperating, is expected to testify. One of Sen. John McCain's investigators is also expected to be called as a witness.

Get the Story:
Trial Nears for Ex-Official Tied to Lobbyist (The New York Times 5/22)

Recent Court Decisions:
April 28, 2006 | April 25, 2006

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