Here's What a Real Political Cover-up Looks Like -- Orchestrated by the Right-Wingers Who Know It Best
Continued from previous page
Beyond pushing the investigation later into 1992, the Republican delaying tactics also ensured that an interim House report, scheduled for the end of June, would not break any new ground that might torpedo Bush’s reelection hopes. The GOP made it a top goal to have the interim report clear Bush of allegations that he had joined a secret trip to Paris in mid-October 1980 to meet with Iranian representatives, the released documents show.
On June 24, 1992, Rehnquist prepared “ talking points” for a Boyden Gray phone call with Republican Sens. Jim Jeffords of Vermont and Richard Lugar of Indiana stressing that “it must be said clearly for the record” that Bush was not in Paris. “We cannot let something this important left hanging,” Rehnquist wrote.
The key to that success was to prevent the congressional investigators from thoroughly examining Bush’s supposed alibis for the date of Oct. 19, 1980, when his account had him returning to his Washington home for a day off but when some October Surprise witnesses alleged he snuck off for a quick overnight flight to Paris to meet with Iranians.
The released records reveal that the White House had a hand in limiting what the Secret Service showed to the investigators regarding Bush’s supposed activities during the day of Oct. 19. The partially redacted Secret Service records, which were given to Congress, showed a morning trip to the Chevy Chase Country Club and an afternoon visit to a private residence.
But the redactions impeded efforts by congressional investigators to corroborate that those supposed movements by Bush actually took place. Under questioning, only one of the Secret Service agents, supervisor Leonard Tanis, had any memory of Bush’s supposed trip to the Chevy Chase Country Club. Tanis claimed that George and Barbara Bush attended a brunch with Supreme Court Justice and Mrs. Potter Stewart.
However, Barbara Bush’s records showed her going somewhere else that morning and, when questioned, Mrs. Stewart said she and her late husband did not have brunch with the Bushes. No one at the Chevy Chase club recalled the supposed brunch either. Tanis, a Bush favorite among the Secret Service detail, soon backed off his account.
With the Chevy Chase trip having verification problems, attention turned to the afternoon visit to a private residence. However, the Secret Service refused to release the name and address of the person visited, claiming that to do so would somehow endanger the agency’s protective strategies. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]
Withholding a Name
What the records from the Bush library revealed, however, was that the White House was involved in keeping the name of the person secret — and that a Republican senator involved in the October Surprise inquiry was under intense pressure from the GOP to act more aggressively in Bush’s defense.
On June 24, 1992, Rehnquist wrote a memo for the file describing a meeting that she and Gray had with Sen. Terry Sanford, D-North Carolina, chairman of the subcommittee in charge of the Senate’s October Surprise inquiry, and Jeffords, the ranking Republican who was viewed as not on the GOP’s cover-up team.
The senators complained about the “GOP thrashing Jeffords,” Rehnquist wrote. “The Senators urged that we seek to stop the GOP from criticizing Sen. Jeffords’ handling of the minority interests in the investigation. They said that they were irritated by the continued GOP bashing and that it wasn’t doing any good.”
But the pummeling appears to have softened Jeffords’s readiness to ask tough questions of his fellow Republicans. Rehnquist wrote, with apparent relief, that there was “discussion concerning whether the investigators needed to see the names and addresses of private individuals whom the VP visited on a particular occasion” and the two senators “were not interested in the names and addresses of private individuals whom the VP may have visited on a particular day.”