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Bush backs House Speaker over his handling of Congressional cybersex scandal

Bush backs House Speaker over his handling of Congressional cybersex scandal

President George W. Bush and other leading Republicans are backing House Speaker Dennis Hastert after he announced he would not resign over his handling of a cybersex scandal in Congress.
As the Republican party prepares to defend its control of Congress in the Nov. 7 mid-term elections, its luminaries are rallying to support Republican Dennis Hastert amid allegations that he did not do enough to protect male teenage House interns from advances by former Republican Representative Mark Foley.
"He really ought not be a sacrificial lamb," former Secretary of State James A. Baker III said Friday.
President George W. Bush called Hastert late Thursday to reassure him. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist issued a statement supporting Hastert Thursday night. And Bush's father, the former President George H.W. Bush, spoke up for Hastert during an ABC News television interview.
But the scandal has cost Republicans in public opinion polls and one Senate Republican candidate called Friday for Hastert to resign over over the congressional scandal.
"He is the head of that institution and this happened on his watch," Jill Hazelbaker, spokeswoman for New Jersey Republican Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr., said.
Foley, 52, stepped down last Friday after he was confronted with sexually explicit electronic messages he had sent teenage male pages and promptly checked into an alcohol rehabilitation clinic. Through his lawyer, he has said he is gay but denied any sexual contact with minors.
Hastert, who has vowed not to resign over his office's handling of the scandal _ "I haven't done anything wrong," he said.
"I'm deeply sorry this has happened and the bottom line is we're taking responsibility," Hastert said at a news conference outside his district office in Illinois.
On CBS television's "The Early Show," Baker said Hastert deserves credit for urging a probe of a sex scandal in the shadow of the November elections when control of both houses of Congress is at stake as voters select all 435 members of the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 senators.
Baker offered a pragmatic reason for the Republican party to stand by him.
"If they throw Denny Hastert off the sled to slow down the wolves, it won't be long before you'll be crying, 'Hey, you've got to throw somebody else over because they knew about it too,'" Baker said.
The bipartisan House ethics panel _ officially the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct _ is investigating potential violations of House rules. On Thursday it approved nearly four dozen subpoenas for witnesses and documents regarding improper conduct between lawmakers and current and former pages and who may have known about it.
Ethics committee chairman Doc Hastings, a Washington state Republican and senior Democrat, Rep. Howard Berman of California will conduct the investigation along with Reps. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a Democrat from Ohio, and Judith Biggert, a Republican from Illinois, whose district is next to Hastert's.
Federal Election Commission records show that Biggert has received $7,000 in campaign cash from Hastert's campaign committees while Hastings has received $2,500. They vow their relationship to Hastert will not affect the way they handle the case.
The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation.
ABC News reported that three more pages, one each from 1998, 2000 and 2002, have come forward detailing sexual approaches from Foley over the Internet.
The FBI has contacted a former congressional page from Kentucky as part of the burgeoning investigation, said Daniel London, chief of staff to Rep. Ron Lewis, a Kentucky Republican who sponsored the teen.
The FBI met with Foley's fomer chief of staff Kirk Fordham who told reporters that he had talked three years ago with top aides to Hastert about Foley's conduct with pages.
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On the Net:
http://www.house.gov/ethics


Updated : 2020-12-04 16:07 GMT+08:00