Saturday, March 24, 2007

Investigation of GOP Congressmen is Ongoing, Says Feds

The former No. 2 official in the Interior Department yesterday admitted lying to the Senate about his relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who gained the official's intervention at the agency for his Indian tribal clients.

J. Steven Griles pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a felony for making false statements in testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in November 2005 and in an earlier interview with panel investigators. He is the 10th person -- and the second high-level Bush administration official -- to face criminal charges in the continuing Justice Department investigation into Abramoff's lobbying activities. ...

Several of the more than 40 career law enforcement officials working on the Abramoff task force said there is a vigorous, ongoing investigation of current and former Republican members of Congress.

Among those who have been convicted or pleaded guilty in the scandal besides Abramoff are ... several former congressional aides who had become lobbyists, including two who had worked for former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). DeLay resigned from Congress last year and is a figure in the continuing probe, sources familiar with the investigation have said.

The plea deal, which does not require Griles to cooperate in the continuing investigation, gives the government a felony conviction without having to use Abramoff as a trial witness. The former lobbyist could be a star witness if the government brings charges against other political figures unwilling to plead guilty.

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