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Police officer accused senator of lying after men's room arrest

Police officer accused senator of lying after men's room arrest

The officer who arrested a conservative U.S. senator in a police undercover operation at an airport men's room accused the senator of lying to him during an interrogation afterward, according to an audiotape of the arrest.
On the tape, released Thursday by the Minneapolis Airport Police, Idaho Republican 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 would not be going to jail as long as he cooperated.
The two men disagreed about virtually everything that had occurred minutes earlier, including whether there was a piece of paper on the floor of the stall and the meaning of the senator's hand gestures. At no time did Craig admit doing anything wrong, although weeks later he pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
"You're not being truthful with me," Karsnia told Craig during the interrogation. "I'm kind of disappointed in you, senator."
Karsnia later told Craig he was "sitting here lying to a police officer," adding: "I expect this from the guy we get out of the 'hood. I mean people vote for you. Unbelievable."
Meanwhile, more of Craig's Republican colleagues moved away from him Thursday in the wake of his guilty plea earlier this month to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct in the undercover police operation aimed at public toilet perverts. Republican National Committee officials had considered calling for his resignation early Thursday, Republicans with knowledge of the deliberations said, but had not done so by day's end.
Sen. John Ensign, who chairs the Republican Party's senatorial campaign committee, stopped short of calling on Craig to resign but suggested strongly that he should.
Sens. Norm Coleman and Susan Collins each turned over to charity $2,500 (euro1,837) 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 _ including Sen. John McCain _ have called for 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.
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 _ an account 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."
Karsnia said in a police report that he recognized Craig's hand gesture as a signal aimed at initiating sex. "It should be noted that there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper," he said in the report.
Karsnia, 29, has arrested at least a dozen men in the airport's bathroom for sending signals he believed were aimed at initiating sex. Each time, Karsnia walked suspects to a spot where they could speak privately, without embarrassing them, according to the police reports he wrote.
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Associated Press writers Scott Sonner in Reno, Nev., Joshua Freed in Minneapolis, Todd Dvorak in Idaho and Liz Sidoti in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-17 14:34 GMT+08:00