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Senate colleagues, House member call for Craig to resign in scandal over bathroom arrest

Senate colleagues, House member call for Craig to resign in scandal over bathroom arrest

Political support eroded significantly Wednesday for a Republican senator caught up in a sex scandal when three fellow Republicans in the U.S. Congress called for his resignation and party leaders pushed him from senior committee posts.
Sen. Larry Craig "represents the Republican party," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the first Republican member of Congress to urge a resignation.
The White House expressed disappointment _ and nary a word of support for the 62-year-old lawmaker, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge stemming from an undercover police operation in an airport men's room.
His is the latest in a series of scandals involving Republicans that threaten to further tarnish the party's reputation. Polls showed that ethical lapses by Republicans played a role in allowing Democrats to win control of Congress during last year's legislative elections.
Now Republicans are trying to curb the power of the new Democratic majority in Congress and generate some enthusiasm for Republican candidates in the 2008 elections at a time when a Republican president, George W. Bush, is at a record low in public opinion polls, mainly due to his handling of the war In Iraq.
Craig recanted his guilty plea on Tuesday, and said he had committed no wrongdoing. He said he has only recently retained a lawyer to advise him in the case that threatened to write an ignominious end to a lifetime in public office.
Sens. Norm Coleman and John McCain, a presidential candidate, joined Hoekstra in urging Craig to step down.
"Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator," said Coleman in a written statement.
McCain spoke out on an interview with CNN television. "My opinion is that when you plead guilty to a crime, you shouldn't serve. That's not a moral stand. That's not a holier-than-thou. It's just a factual situation."
For a second consecutive day, Republican Senate leaders stepped in, issuing a statement that said Craig had "agreed to comply with leadership's request" to step down temporarily as the top Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee as well as two appropriations panels.
"This is not a decision we take lightly, but we believe this is in the best interest of the Senate until this situation is resolved by the ethics committee," said the statement, issued in the name of Mitch McConnell, the party leader in the Senate, and others.
On Tuesday, the leaders jumped ahead of Craig's appearance before television cameras in his home state of Idaho to announce they had asked the ethics committee look into the case.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said, "We are disappointed in the matter," without specifying exactly what was causing the discomfort.
He said he hoped the ethics committee would do its work completely, "as that would be in the best interests of the Senate and the people of Idaho."
For their part, Democrats studiously avoided involvement with an unfolding Republican scandal.
"We at least ought to hear his side of the story.," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, like McCain a presidential contender who spoke on CNN.


Updated : 2021-05-06 14:54 GMT+08:00