Jack who?

One Republican congressman admits to liking Jack Abramoff, but Tom DeLay says he and Abramoff were never close.

Published February 23, 2006 7:38PM (EST)

You've got to hand it to Rep. John Doolittle. Although the California Republican is trying to put some distance between himself and the Jack Abramoff scandal, he isn't pretending that he never had a relationship with the disgraced GOP lobbyist. "I never believed that Abramoff ever had any problems like this," Doolittle told the Sacramento Bee last week. "I never saw it. I liked him. I mean, I've got to admit that to you. I did."

Ousted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has taken a somewhat different approach. In a letter to constituents earlier this month, DeLay rejected the "notion" that Abramoff was "a close friend who wielded influence over me." "The reality," DeLay said, "is that Jack Abramoff and I were not close personal friends."

Think Progress notes another version of "reality": During a trip to the Northern Mariana Islands in 1997, DeLay raised a glass to "one of my closest and dearest friends, Jack Abramoff."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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