David Shuster just reported that sources on Capital Hill are telling him Hastert is done as Speaker. They are saying he will not hold the position in the next week. Following that, Keith gives a rundown on the timeline in the Foley scandal.
One key point really caught my attention in Keith's timeline tonight. There are now reports that Republican members of Congress knew about this 11 years ago. That would put this in 1995. Now what other "sex scandal" has happened in Washington since then? Oh yeah - Monica Lewinsky. So the Lewinsky incident was so severe to merit a multi-million dollar investigation and the attention of both halls of Congress, yet a Republican congressman having possible illicit contact with pages under the age of 18 doesn't get any attention by the GOP? There you have it - the perfect definition of hypocrisy.
(Timeline transcript below the fold)
In a case like this, it can be easy to explain away a cover-up. You did it to shield the victims, or spare the culprit's family additional embarrassment. They are excuses that do not wash in the real world, let alone courtrooms, but we hear them during political scandals anyway.
And there were very real political gains to be had in covering this up-not just protecting Foley's House seat, and thereby control of the House itself - but preserving Foley's cash flow. He has given three quarters of a million dollars to Republican campaigns - most recently, 100-thousand dollars this summer to the N-R-C-C, the campaign committee that doles out money to House Republicans.
But motive is not enough to assess whether politics ... over the well-being of victims, or potential future victims ... was the driving force behind a cover-up. That requires looking at the pattern of behavior, and the shifting patterns of what was said. It is our goal to do so tonight.
Last September, Republican Congressman Rodney Alexander learned that one of his pages was sent e-mails by Foley. Alexander's staff then contacted Speaker Denny Hastert's office. According to "Roll Call," they are referred to Hastert's top "political" adviser.
Hastert's office notifies the House clerk, who oversees the page program and tells Republican Congressman John Shimkus, who chairs the three-person Page Board. The Page Board, however, is responsible for the behavior of pages.
Member behavior is overseen by... the Ethics Committee... which is not told.
In fact, Shimkus had a hint of Foley's interest in pages back in 2002...
Shimkus 2002: "...someone who spends a lot of time with you all
...but Shimkus didn't tell the other two members of Congress who sit on the Page Board about the new e-mails.
Shimkus only tells Foley to stop e-mailing the page who came forward.
But when that page contacted Alexander's office, he included additional information... which was not acted on, like this line:
"Kerianna...said that there was a congressman that did hit on pages."... and the fact that Foley e-mailed another page, "Will," who Foley said was "in really great shape." No one appears to have made any effort to interview "Kerianna" or "Will"... or determine whether Foley didn't just e-mail, but also hit on pages.
This Spring, Alexander decided to tell two more people about Foley's e-mails: Majority Leader John Boehner, and Congressman Tom Reynolds, whose primary job chairing the Republican campaign committee, is to help them win elections... and who- knowing about these e-mails- later still urged Foley to run this year.
Hastert first said he only learned about Foley last Friday. But Boehner disputed that, saying Hastert told him in the spring that it was "taken care of." Boehner later retracted his statement... but changed back again on Monday.
Boehner: "He told me it had been taken care of."
"GOP sources" tell "Roll Call" that "Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February 2nd GOP leadership elections."
All that before today's A-P report that Hastert's office was warned about Foley... in 2004.
Then there is Kirk Fordham. According to the L-A Times, when Fordham worked for Foley, he used to accompany Foley, quote to keep him out of trouble. Fordham moved on to work- until today- for Reynolds... whose campaign committee got a hundred-thousand dollars in August... from Foley. And last week, Fordham was back advising Foley before A-B-C broke the story.
A-B-C says Fordham offered an exclusive on Foley's resignation if A-B-C kept Foley's I-M's a secret. Fordham's own lawyer tells the L-A Times, quote, "It was an attempt to shield his boss from the political storm."
And about that resignation... Fordham credits Reynolds with getting Foley to resign. But here's Foley's lawyer:
Lawyer: "this was a life decision, not a tactical one made by others"
Hastert took credit, too...
Hastert: "We found out about it, asked him to resign. He did resign."
...despite telling reporters the day before, quote, "We really didn't have a chance to ask him to resign."
Once the story did get out, it was first minimized...
Snow - "simply naughty e-mails"
Then the GOP shot down Democratic calls for immediate investigation
Regardless of who's playing politics now... A-B-C says its source was not a Democrat... and, in fact, only Republicans knew about it before last week. On the issue of how they viewed it before last week, Hastert is clear.
He may not remember if Reynolds told him about Foley in spring... but he does remember whether the context was protecting children... or someone else.
Hastert: "he would have told me that in the context of maybe a half dozen or a dozen other things. I don't remember that. Q: Other allegations of improper e-mails? A: No, just other things that might have affected campaigns."
Hastert: "It was probably a whole stack of political things."