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Republicans say US senator to resign in storm over sex sting at an airport men's room

Republicans say US senator to resign in storm over sex sting at an airport men's room

A Republican U.S. senator arrested in a police sex sting in an airport men's bathroom will resign from the Senate amid a furor over his arrest and guilty plea, Republican officials said.
Republican Sen. Larry Craig will announce at a news conference in Boise Saturday morning that he will resign effective Sept. 30, Republican officials in Idaho and Washington told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity Friday.
Word of the resignation came four days after the disclosure that Craig had pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge arising out of his June 11 arrest during a lewd-conduct investigation at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The three-term senator from Idaho had maintained that he did nothing wrong except for making the guilty plea without consulting a lawyer. But he found almost no support among Republicans in his home state or Washington.
Although several Republicans familiar with internal deliberations said Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter favored Lt. Gov. Jim Risch as a replacement, both Otter aides and Risch said no decision had been made.
Craig's spokesman, Dan Whiting, had said earlier that the senator would announce his career plans Saturday. The spokesman would not say whether Craig intended to resign.
Craig has been out of public view since Tuesday, when he declared defiantly at a Boise news conference: "I am not gay. I never have been gay." But Republican sources in Idaho said he spent Friday making calls to top party officials, including the governor, gauging their support.
There has been virtually no support publicly.
Asked Friday at the White House if the senator should resign, President George W. Bush said nothing and walked off stage.
Republican officeholders and party leaders maintained a steady drumbeat of actions and words aimed at persuading Craig to vacate his Senate seat.
Republican lawmakers, hoping to get the embarrassment to the party behind them quickly, stripped Craig of leadership posts on Wednesday, one day after they called for an investigation of Craig's actions by the Senate Ethics Committee. Craig complied with the request.
With his wife, Suzanne, at his side, Craig said he had kept the incident from aides, friends and family and later pleaded guilty "in hopes of making it go away."
Craig, 62, has represented the northwestern state in Congress for more than a quarter-century and was up for re-election next year.
Republican officeholders and party leaders wanted Craig to give up his seat in the Senate as soon as possible. Their preference, according to several officials, was for a successor to be selected and ready to take the oath of office when the Senate returns from its summer vacation next week.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Craig's conduct "unforgivable" and acknowledged that many in the rank and file thought Craig should resign.
Republicans, worried about the scandal's effect on next year's election, suffered a further setback Friday when veteran Republican Sen. John Warner announced he will retire rather than seek a sixth term.
The contest for control of the next Senate was already tilted against Republicans, who must defend 22 of 34 seats on the ballot next year, before the Craig scandal and Warner's announcement.
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Daly reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Todd Dvorak in Boise and David Espo and Liz Sidoti in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-15 05:19 GMT+08:00