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Arresting officer accused US senator of lying after men's room sex sting

Arresting officer accused US senator of lying after men's room sex sting

The officer who arrested a senior U.S. Republican senator in a police undercover operation at an airport men's room accused the lawmaker of lying to him during an interrogation afterward, according to an audio tape of the arrest.
On the tape, released Thursday by the Minneapolis Airport Police, Sen. Larry Craig, in turn, accuses the officer of soliciting him for sex.
"I'm not gay. I don't do these kinds of things," Craig told Sgt. Dave Karsnia minutes after the two men met in a men's room at the airport on June 11.
"You shouldn't be out to entrap people," Craig told the officer. "I don't want you to take me to jail."
Karsnia replied that Craig wouldn't be going to jail as long as he cooperates.
At one point during the interrogation, the officer told Craig: "You're not being truthful with me. I'm kind of disappointed in you, senator."
His predicament has roiled the Republican party in his home state and nationally in the days since. Republicans lost control of Congress in last November's elections, partly due to scandals, and are trying to regroup in preparation for the next round of voting, this time with the presidency at stake, in late 2008.
Meanwhile, more of Craig's Republican colleagues moved away from him Thursday in the wake of his guilty plea this month to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct in the undercover police operation aimed at men soliciting sex.
Sen. John Ensign, who chairs the Republicans' senatorial campaign committee, which provides money and other political necessities to candidates, stopped short of demanding that Craig resign but suggested strongly that he should.
"I wouldn't put myself hopefully in that kind of position, but if I was in a position like that, that's what I would do," Ensign told The Associated Press in his home state. "He's going to have to answer that for himself."
Sens. Norm Coleman and Susan Collins each turned over to charity $2,500 (euro1,840) in campaign donations they had received from Craig's political action committee. Coleman and Collins both face potentially tough races for re-election next year.
Coleman and several other Republicans have urged Craig to resign his seat in the Senate. Craig already has agreed to a request by Republican leaders to give up his ranking status on the Veterans Affairs Committee and appropriations subcommittees.
Craig said Tuesday he had committed no wrongdoing and should not have pleaded guilty. He said he had only recently retained a lawyer to advise him in the case, which threatens to write an ignominious end to a lifetime in public office.
Republican Senate leaders said they did not act lightly in asking Craig to give up his leadership posts temporarily. But they said their decision was "in the best interest of the Senate until this situation is resolved by the ethics committee."
On the tape, Craig and the arresting officer can be heard arguing over what happened in the men's room minutes earlier. Craig acknowledges that the men's feet bumped, but says nothing improper happened.
"Did we bump? Yes, I think we did. You said so. I don't disagree with that," Craig said.
But Craig disputes the officer's account that he swept his hand under the stall next to him in an apparent effort to advance the encounter. They even disagree whether Craig used his right hand or his left hand.
Craig said he was merely trying to pick up a piece of paper, which the officer disputes.
"I'm telling you that I could see, so I know that's your left hand. Also I could see a gold ring on this finger, so that's obvious it was the left hand," Karsnia tells Craig.
"Well we can dispute that," Craig says. "I'm not going to fight you in court. I reached down with my right hand to pick up the paper."
Meanwhile, Idaho Republican Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter told CNN that Craig's loss of his committee leadership posts was "problematic," adding: "I'm sure Larry and his family are going to take those things into consideration as they go forward with their decisions."
Republican Rep. Mike Simpson said, "Like most Idahoans, I was shocked by the allegations against Larry and by his guilty plea. However, I tend to judge people by the totality of their career, and Senator Craig has been a dedicated public servant who has been an asset for Idaho for almost 30 years. At this time, I will not pass judgment on this matter."
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Associated Press writers Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada; Joshua Freed in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Todd Dvorak in Idaho contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-06 19:02 GMT+08:00