October 08, 2006

Adieu, Susan Ralston?

Or is it just "au revoir"?

The hot chick resigns (on a Friday at 5pm, of course) and the White House counsel's office says there's nothing to see here folks. From WaPo:
The White House counsel's office conducted a review of the report, but with Ralston's departure it closed its inquiry yesterday. "Nothing more will come from the report, no further fallout from the report," Perino said.

A senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the counsel's office reached no conclusion about whether Ralston violated gift limits because her resignation made the point moot. But the official said there were "mitigating circumstances" in her case because she had a preexisting relationship with Abramoff, for whom she worked before joining the White House. The official said the White House made no criminal referral in her case. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
Methinks we'll be seeing more of the hot chick in good time. Rove and Abramoff are not exactly beyond scrutiny. And as the NYT says, Ralston served as a conduit between the two men:
... administration officials acknowledged that she quit as a result of a Congressional report, released last week, that documented hundreds of contacts between Mr. Abramoff and the White House...

For more than a year, Ms. Ralston was entangled in two Washington scandals at once: In addition to being a nexus between Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Rove, she was also pivotal in the C.I.A. leak case. It was Ms. Ralston who patched through a phone call from a Time magazine reporter to Mr. Rove, a conversation that cast a cloud of suspicion over the White House strategist throughout the investigation. Ms. Ralston testified before a grand jury in the leak case, and was interviewed by prosecutors in the Abramoff investigation.

Yet Ms. Ralston herself was never accused of any wrongdoing...

Today, Representative Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, which issued the report, accused White House officials of “trying to make Susan Ralston the scapegoat.”

“There is a lot that we don’t yet know about the assistance that Ms. Ralston provided Mr. Abramoff from inside the White House. But there are also many unanswered questions about the assistance that higher-ranking White House officials appeared to provide Mr. Abramoff,” Mr. Waxman said in a statement.


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