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Official: House leader Hastert will take responsibility for page scandal

Official: House leader Hastert will take responsibility for page scandal

The leader of the House of Representatives, Speaker Dennis Hastert, will take responsibility for the unfolding page sex scandal but insist he will stay on as head of House Republicans, a party official said Thursday. The Ethics Committee voted to investigate improper conduct between lawmakers and teenage pages.
Hastert will ask former FBI director Louis Freeh to also examine the page system and make recommendations on how to improve program almost as old as the Congress itself. Freeh headed the FBI from 1993 to 2001 during Bill Clinton's presidency.
At a news conference in his home district in Illinois, Hastert will also ask the Ethics Committee to consider new rules so that anyone making inappropriate contact with pages be disciplined. In the case of staff, they would be fired; lawmakers would be subject to expulsion, the official said.
Hastert also was ready to appoint an outside expert to investigate the scandal and recommend changes to the page program, virtually as old as Congress itself.
As Hastert huddled with aides to write a statement to be delivered at the news conference, the ethics panel opened an investigation into the unfolding scandal over Rep. Mark Foley's come-ons to teenage congressional pages and accusations _ even by some Republicans _ that House leaders failed to protect the teens.
The committee, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, sat in closed session to take up a matter that imperils Hastert's leadership and has stirred extraordinary Republican infighting with Nov. 7 elections barely a month away.
All 435 seats in the House are at stake in the voting and the Democrats stand a good chance of wresting control of the chamber from the Republicans.


Updated : 2021-05-15 23:12 GMT+08:00