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White House Says Its Review of Nominee Was Thorough (Kerik Update)
New York Times ^ | 12/13/04 | DAVID E. SANGER

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.


TOPICS: Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: backgroundcheck; dhs; homelandsecurity; kerik
I just don't understand why the hell Kerik didn't tell them about this in the beginning, it's almost as if he wanted to embarass Bush.
1 posted on 12/12/2004 6:38:06 PM PST by wagglebee
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To: wagglebee

Kerik should be ashamed of himself and I don't have much confidence in our "intelligence" if something like this wasn't discovered.


2 posted on 12/12/2004 6:45:57 PM PST by Mears
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To: Mears
Hell, all they need to do is ask:
Have you ever employed someone and not filed the required IRS forms? And have you verified they are legally allowed to work in the United States?

It's not that difficult, they should just ask for a list of everyone they've ever employed to work in their homes.

3 posted on 12/12/2004 6:48:11 PM PST by wagglebee (Memo to sKerry: the only thing Bush F'ed up was your career)
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To: Mears
That's what I say too - we need intelligence reform and quick.
4 posted on 12/12/2004 6:50:59 PM PST by Paladin2 (SeeBS News - We Decide, We Create, We Report - In that order! - ABC - Already Been Caught)
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To: wagglebee
Report says Kerik did not disclose gifts from friends

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1299940/posts

5 posted on 12/12/2004 6:55:27 PM PST by TexKat (Just because you did not see it or read it, that does not mean it did or did not happen.)
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To: wagglebee

That's my point---apparently they didn't ask.


6 posted on 12/12/2004 6:59:32 PM PST by Mears
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To: wagglebee

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.


7 posted on 12/12/2004 7:00:19 PM PST by HarryCaul
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To: wagglebee

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.


8 posted on 12/12/2004 7:01:14 PM PST by mabelkitty (Blackwell for Governor in 2006!!!)
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To: Mears

Because they didn't want to know?
Don't ask, don't tell.


9 posted on 12/12/2004 7:02:46 PM PST by mabelkitty (Blackwell for Governor in 2006!!!)
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To: wagglebee

They did ask. That has been reported since Friday.


10 posted on 12/12/2004 7:02:57 PM PST by cyncooper
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To: Mears
---apparently they didn't ask.

They did ask.

11 posted on 12/12/2004 7:03:43 PM PST by cyncooper
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To: mabelkitty

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.


12 posted on 12/12/2004 7:04:46 PM PST by cyncooper
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To: mabelkitty

They asked. I was out most of yesterday and still managed to hear and read that reported several times in various venues.


13 posted on 12/12/2004 7:05:36 PM PST by cyncooper
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To: mabelkitty

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.


14 posted on 12/12/2004 7:19:57 PM PST by Hildy ( The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue)
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To: wagglebee

The mere fact that hillary and chucky endorsed him is damning.


15 posted on 12/12/2004 7:23:17 PM PST by Bonaparte (Of course, it must look like an accident...)
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To: wagglebee

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.


16 posted on 12/12/2004 7:55:24 PM PST by Alberta's Child (If whiskey was his mistress, his true love was the West . . .)
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To: Alberta's Child
Sorry. The bigget loser is Bush.

Vetting process. What a joke.

17 posted on 12/12/2004 8:09:24 PM PST by onedoug
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To: onedoug
If you think the Bush administration fell down on this one, consider this . . . many of the stories that are lurking out there about Kerik date back to the period before he was even named by Giuliani as the commissioner of the New York City police department.

That just about says it all about these Northeastern "blue" states, doesn't it?

18 posted on 12/12/2004 8:13:17 PM PST by Alberta's Child (If whiskey was his mistress, his true love was the West . . .)
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To: wagglebee
You think that Kerik wanted to embarrass GWB? I think that GWB did not have a complete understanding of his politics and beleifs as Bo Dietl has offered, that is, an understanding that illegal immigration is our biggest problem. GWB does not want to go there. Rudy may also agree with Bo and Kerik. If that is the case, the next four years will be difficult for GWB, not to mention, the security and sovereignty of our nation.
19 posted on 12/12/2004 8:21:28 PM PST by Final Authority
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To: HarryCaul
You must confuse this administration with the Clinton Administration. I read a day or two ago that the White House asked Kerick 3 times to confirm that there were no problems with this and they said that he firmly said NO! I think it is true!
20 posted on 12/12/2004 8:59:33 PM PST by Lady In Blue ( President 'SEABISCUIT' AKA George W Bush)
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To: cyncooper
THANK YOU!
21 posted on 12/12/2004 9:00:16 PM PST by Lady In Blue ( President 'SEABISCUIT' AKA George W Bush)
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To: onedoug

Pure unadulated baloney! Kerik got out before the confirmation process! No harm done,imho. We might get somebody even better than Bernie, who I liked and still do. But to say that this hurts President Bush is more than a stretch.


22 posted on 12/12/2004 9:07:48 PM PST by Lady In Blue ( President 'SEABISCUIT' AKA George W Bush)
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To: Alberta's Child
My prediction is that Giuliani's future in the national GOP is now non-existent.

I honestly believe that Mayor Guilianni has no interest in holding any office higher than Senator. I do think he may run for Senator (NY - Duh...) in 2006...but I can't help thinking that he'll run for Mayor of NYC again someday...if he does return to politics, that is. I'm not sure how the term limits work (slap me!) but I do believe that the only rule is that a mayor may not have more two consecutive terms...Anyhow, NYC is where his heart and soul are and he is still the best man for that thankless job!

23 posted on 12/12/2004 9:14:47 PM PST by blinachka
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To: wagglebee

Why would he want to embarrass the President? He endorsed him, and otherwise supported him in the election!


24 posted on 12/12/2004 9:50:34 PM PST by dsutah
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To: Mears

The nanny thing is the least of it, and not a good reason for him to withdraw, even though it was enough to sink Linda Chavez four years ago. Kerik is dirty: he's made millions already in war-profiteering investments. Let's let Democrats own that kind of hypocrisy.


25 posted on 12/13/2004 12:33:06 AM PST by willyboyishere
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To: Lady In Blue

You're welcome.

Merry Christmas, Lady In Blue.


26 posted on 12/13/2004 5:13:18 AM PST by cyncooper
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To: wagglebee
White House Says Its Review of Nominee Was Thorough

If that's "thorough", I'd hate to see "slipshod"....

27 posted on 12/14/2004 9:34:35 AM PST by steve-b (A desire not to butt into other people's business is eighty percent of all human wisdom)
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