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Michael Jackson visits Capitol Hill

No meeting with Congressional Black Caucus


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Michael Jackson arrives at Rep. Chaka Fattah's office.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Embattled pop star Michael Jackson paid a high-profile visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, meeting with a congressman to promote the fight against AIDS in Africa.

Surrounded by a large entourage, Jackson flashed the peace sign before entering the office of Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania in the Rayburn House Office Building.

In planning the Capitol Hill visit, Jackson's publicist requested a meeting for the singer with the Congressional Black Caucus but was turned down.

The caucus cited scheduling conflicts, but aides privately acknowledged that many members didn't want their picture taken with the star.

During the brief meeting with Fattah, a member of the caucus, Jackson read a statement touching on his humanitarian efforts in the battle against AIDS.

"I know that many of you will continue to raise awareness and will continue to fight for funding in Africa," Jackson read. "I want you to know I will do whatever I can to assist you in that fight."

After the meeting, Fattah said Jackson seemed happy, and he praised the singer's efforts in combating AIDS.

"We were happy to have a chance to spend some brief moments to talk to one of the leading celebrities in world that has used their celebrity status to help other people, particularly ... the millions of people on the continent of Africa who are suffering with the most devastating disease known to mankind," Fattah said.

When asked about the child molestation charges against the singer, Fattah said Jackson is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

"Until someone is proven to have done something wrong, to shun them or act as if they do not deserve to be heard, I think would be an insult to our responsibilities here as representatives of this country, which is a nation of laws," the congressman said.

He drew a comparison to the investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA operative to the news media. Conservative columnist and CNN contributor Robert Novak, who first identified the operative in a column published in July, said the information came from administration officials.

Fattah said members of Congress still listen to President Bush when he comes to address them.

"We can't conduct our work here on the basis of rumors and innuendo, nor on the basis of unproven allegations," he said.

Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to seven felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 and two counts of giving the child an "intoxicating agent."

Monday, one Democratic leadership aide had criticized the idea of Jackson meeting with lawmakers.

"It's a distraction from the progress we've been making on issues that are important to the American people: jobs and the economy," the aide said. "It's a distraction for the media."

CNN's Joe Johns and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.


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