Skip to comments.White House Says Its Review of Nominee Was Thorough (Kerik Update)
Posted on 12/12/2004 6:38:06 PM PST by wagglebee
WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 - Senior administration officials on Sunday defended the White House review of Bernard B. Kerik's background before his nomination as secretary of homeland security. One official said that even "controversial" material uncovered in a weeklong review had not appeared to endanger Mr. Kerik's confirmation.
In interviews, the officials denied that the White House review of Mr. Kerik's background had been rushed. Scott McClellan, President Bush's press secretary, called it "a very thorough vetting process" that "looked at all the issues relating to his public, financial and personal background." But they said that there had been no way to discover - without Mr. Kerik volunteering the information - that his family's nanny was most likely an illegal alien, or that he had failed to pay the proper taxes related to her employment. It was that issue alone, they say, that terminated his nomination.
The review of Mr. Kerik's record was centered in the office of the White House counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, who is himself in the midst of the preconfirmation process as the president's nominee to succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general.
Administration officials seemed eager on Sunday to dispel any notion that Mr. Gonzales's office short-circuited the process in the case of Mr. Kerik or was not alert to potential problems in his background. They described a vetting process more intense than usual before a presidential nomination, asserting that Mr. Kerik brought his troubles on himself by failing to flag the issue of his housekeeper despite repeated questioning on the subject.
All of the officials with knowledge of the vetting of Mr. Kerik's record insisted on anonymity, and they declined to go into detail about questionable issues they had reviewed involving Mr. Kerik's past, saying that would violate his privacy.
But one official said that the White House spent "more time than most" with Mr. Kerik "because he was someone with a colorful background, and there was a good deal in the public domain - much of it favorable, some of it controversial." The official noted that Mr. Kerik had "major supporters" from New York, including former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and the state's two senators, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, both Democrats.
Those recommendations, they said, did not short-circuit the review process before Mr. Bush's announcement on Dec. 3 that Mr. Kerik was his nominee for the domestic security post. But they noted that Mr. Kerik's past had already received some scrutiny from his days as New York's police commissioner, when he held a security clearance so that the F.B.I. could discuss terrorist threats against New York with him.
Still, they said that they had approached Mr. Kerik's appointment with care, and that they had taken their time. They described many hours of discussions with Mr. Kerik involving both the office of presidential personnel and officials from Mr. Gonzales's office, stretching out over a number of days.
They declined to say if they had engaged private investigators to learn more about Mr. Kerik's past, or if they had obtained nonpublic credit histories that might have revealed further details about financial troubles concerning a condominium he owned in New Jersey. Nor did they say if they had examined the nature of his relationship to the Interstate Industrial Corporation, a New Jersey construction company that he apparently tried to help several years ago, despite suspicions that it was connected to organized crime.
White House officials say that as a matter of routine, lawyers and legal assistants spend many hours before the president chooses a nominee looking into the nominee's financial background, largely from public records. "It's a thorough process," said one official who was involved, "but you have to rely, in the end, on the places a candidate directs you to." The official noted that the administration had appointed more than 1,000 people to federal posts and that only a few had been forced to withdraw before their nominations reached the Senate.
A study of the presidential nomination process published four years ago by the Brookings Institution and the Pew Charitable Trusts, "A Survivor's Guide for Presidential Nominees," noted that in the Clinton administration this stage in the process included reviewing the nominee's public statements and histories of past controversies. The main tool is Lexis/Nexis, a popular computer search for news articles, lawsuits and other proceedings. In Mr. Kerik's case, even the most rudimentary search brings up a wealth of information.
"It's fair to say we had plenty to read," one official involved in the process said. But it was not until Mr. Bush had announced his choice, the official said, that Mr. Kerik began plowing through the "personal data statement questionnaire" and an additional questionnaire for nominees for national security posts, and that the issues concerning his household help came to the attention of White House officials. Those forms give the F.B.I. permission to conduct a much fuller "field review" of a nominee.
Kerik should be ashamed of himself and I don't have much confidence in our "intelligence" if something like this wasn't discovered.
It's not that difficult, they should just ask for a list of everyone they've ever employed to work in their homes.
That's my point---apparently they didn't ask.
Scott McClellan, President Bush's press secretary, called it "a very thorough vetting process"
Well, not to slam the Administration, but that's clearly not true.
I bet there's been some fur flying internally.
Rudy pushed him for the job.
Why did he do it?
Does Kerik have something on him, or does Rudy have an axe to grind against W?
This stinks to high heaven.
Because they didn't want to know?
Don't ask, don't tell.
They did ask. That has been reported since Friday.
They did ask.
Maybe it's the not so subtle spin the media has devised for the stories.
Ever heard the term "mountain out of a molehill"? It is possible that is what is happening.
They asked. I was out most of yesterday and still managed to hear and read that reported several times in various venues.
Oh please, Rudy has no axe to grind and this hurts him personally and professionally. It was Kerik's responsibility to disclose and frankly, alot of this should have been found out within 15 minutes of his name being bandied around. Makes you really wonder about our intelligence.
The mere fact that hillary and chucky endorsed him is damning.
The biggest loser in all this is Rudy Giuliani, who pulled a favor to get Kerik nominated in the first place. My prediction is that Giuliani's future in the national GOP is now non-existent.
Vetting process. What a joke.
That just about says it all about these Northeastern "blue" states, doesn't it?
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