MARCH 23, 2007
The highest-ranking Bush Administration official to be criminally investigated in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal finally admits that he obstructed justice by concealing his unique relationship with the convicted lobbyist and repeatedly lying about it to senate investigators.
Former deputy secretary of the Department of Interior Steven Griles will plead guilty to felony obstruction of justice in a Washington DC federal court today, according to a major news organization. Griles has admitted that he lied five times to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and its investigators in an effort to hide his close relationship with Abramoff, who is currently in prison.
The senate committee launched the investigation amid reports that wealthy Indian casino operators paid Abramoff tens of millions of dollars to influence Congressional and Interior Department decisions that would affect them. Abramoff lured his clients by assuring them that he had serious connections at the Interior Department and a close relationship with a high-ranking official.
In a desperate effort to hamper the senate committee’s investigation that criminally implicated him, Griles vehemently denied any ties to Abramoff and told senate investigators that it was “outrageous” and “not true” that the disgraced lobbyist had any special access to him or his department. He now admits he lied and that Abramoff did in fact have special access to him.
Griles is currently the top lobbyist of a major oil company called ConocoPhillips. Last month Griles was involved in a questionable real estate transaction with his girlfriend, at the time the top environmental prosecutor at the Department of Justice, and ConocoPhillips’ vice president. The three purchased $1 million home just months before the prosecutor girlfriend, Sue Wooldridge, granted the oil company leniency in its multi million-dollar pollution settlement with the government.
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