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Ethics panel approves subpoenas in new investigation of House page sex scandal; House leader reasserts he is remaining in job

Ethics panel approves subpoenas in new investigation of House page sex scandal; House leader reasserts he is remaining in job

The House of Representatives Ethics Committee opened an expansive investigation into the unfolding page sex scandal Thursday by approving four dozen subpoenas for witnesses and documents, as the House Republican leader held his ground against pressure to resign.
"I'm deeply sorry this has happened and the bottom line is we're taking responsibility," Speaker Dennis Hastert said at a news conference.
"Ultimately, the buck stops here," he said.
Hastert was abruptly changing the tactics he has followed since the scandal broke last week. As recently as Wednesday, he blamed Democrats for the scandal and insisted he had done nothing wrong.
The committee's chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings, said a newly formed subcommittee's investigation "will go wherever our evidence leads us."
Asked if embattled Hastert was among those subpoenaed, Hastings would not comment. Hastings said the subpoenas cover lawmakers and staff as well as appointed officers of the House.
The committee's senior Democrat, Rep. Howard Berman said the investigation should take "weeks, not months."
Hastert praised the ethic committee's actions and said outside an office in his home state of Illinois that he would instruct his attorney to cooperate with the panel "in getting to the bottom of this."
"The committee is moving to get control of this situation and find answers to provide all of us peace of mind," he said in a statement earlier.
"Any person who is found guilty of improper conduct involving sexual contact or communication with a page should immediately resign, be fired, or subjected to a vote of expulsion," Hastert said.
A former Republican aide said Wednesday he had expressed concerns to top officials in Hastert's office about Foley's behavior with pages more than three years ago.
The ethics subcommittee will be made up of Hastings, Berman, Rep. Judy Biggert and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio.
"We have ideological and philosophical differences," Berman acknowledged. "We are going to put those differences totally aside" for the investigation.
Hastert was said by officials in advance of the speaker's news conference to have planned to ask former FBI Director Louis Freeh to also examine the page system and make recommendations. But that did not immediately materialize, and Hastert did not broach Freeh's name at his news conference.
Republican and Democratic aides said Hastert called House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to suggest Freeh, but that no decision was made.


Updated : 2021-05-15 02:19 GMT+08:00