Negotiations ongoing as we speak:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 – Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist under criminal investigation, has been discussing with prosecutors a deal that would grant him a reduced sentence in exchange for testimony against former political and business associates, people with detailed knowledge of the case say.

Mr. Abramoff is believed to have extensive knowledge of what prosecutors suspect is a wider pattern of corruption among lawmakers and Congressional staff members. One participant in the case who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations described him as a “unique resource.”

Other people involved in the case or who have been officially briefed on it said the talks had reached a tense phase, with each side mindful of the date Jan. 9, when Mr. Abramoff is scheduled to stand trial in Miami in a separate prosecution.

A unique resource, indeed. Abramoff is the Rosetta Stone of practically every scandal which now plagues the Republicans. Only Treasongate and Spygate seem likely not to have some connection to his nefarious dealings: money laundering, illegal political contributions, fraud, bribery of public officials, ad nauseum. We don’t need to go into all the details here, but one thing is clear: if Abramoff tells everything he knows to prosecutors, a lot of Republican leaders in Congress are going to be indicted, beginning with Tom Delay.

What began as a limited inquiry into $82 million of Indian casino lobbying by Mr. Abramoff and his closest partner, Michael Scanlon, has broadened into a far-reaching corruption investigation of mainly Republican lawmakers and aides suspected of accepting favors in exchange for legislative work.

Prominent party officials, including the former House majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, are under scrutiny involving trips and other gifts from Mr. Abramoff and his clients. The case has shaken the Republican establishment, with the threat of testimony from Mr. Abramoff, once a ubiquitous and well-connected Republican star, sowing anxiety throughout the party ranks.

Enjoy your stocking stuffer, everyone!

Update [2005-12-21 9:18:7 by Steven D]: I was beaten to the punch on this story by this excellent diary by urizon. Please go and recommend the diary so that after my post scrolls down, the Abramoff story can still be prominently displayed in our “Recommended Diaries” section. Thanks. (Hat tip to oui for pointing me to urizon’s diary in the comments.)

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