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Hastert, Again



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Here’s the Speaker’s September 30 statement:.  Yes, Hastert didn’t directly order Foley to stop communications with the ex-page.  I wrote, in part: ”[Hastert] ordered his lieutenants to tell Foley to stop communicating with the ex-page.  He took commensurate action with the information he had.”  Kate is right.  Hastert’s lieutenants did it on their own.  In subsequent interviews, Hastert has used the word “we” to describe the leadership’s actions.  Still, point taken.  But I believe the point weakens the argument proffered by Kate and others.

Hastert’s statement says, in part:

The Clerk and Congressman Shimkus met and then immediately met with Foley to discuss the matter. They asked Foley about the email. Congressman Shimkus and the Clerk made it clear that to avoid even the appearance of impropriety and at the request of the parents, Congressman Foley was to immediately cease any communication with the young man.

The Clerk recalls that later that day he encountered Van Der Meid on the House floor and reported to him that he and Shimkus personally had spoken to Foley and had taken corrective action.

So, numerous senior staffers and at least two members were involved in resolving the matter including the Speaker’s staff assistant, in-house counsel, and deputy chief of staff; as well as Representatives Alexander and Shimkus (chairman, the page board).  The ball wasn’t dropped.  Action was taken.  But not the kind of action that Kate and others are claiming should have been undertaken in hindsight.

But Kate’s point, respectfully, doesn’t help her argument.  Kate writes, in part: “According to the Foley scandal timeline released by House GOP leadership over the weekend and Speaker Hastert’s statements since, the Speaker was unaware of the ‘overly friendly’ e-mails brought to the attention of his aides by Rep. Alexander’s chief of staff last fall.”  Therefore, the Speaker wasn’t aware of anything, including the information in the e-mails.  And if he wasn’t aware of anything, then how can it be said that he was “negligent” if he wasn’t presented with anything — except of course the supposed “open-secret” about Foley, which is believed to have been about his being gay.  And how could it be argued that he should have ordered an investigation about something of which he knew nothing?  This is a wholly unreasonable, if not preposterous standard. 



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