The White House was aware of the damaging allegations against Bernard Kerik when he was nominated in 2004 as secretary of Homeland Security, The Washington Post reported this week. An initial background check turned up evidence of Kerik’s questionable financial dealings and possible ties to organized crime, the Post said. But the White House cut short the inquiry, and then–White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales was put in charge of the vetting process. President Bush went ahead and named Kerik to the post, only to hastily withdraw the nomination after the damaging allegations surfaced. The White House was eager to nominate the former New York police commissioner as a reward to his political patron Rudolph Giuliani, now a top contender for the GOP presidential nomination.
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