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Blogger Sweet Scoop: Hastert took concern over FBI raid directly to President Bush. Treatens to sue ABC News over story linking him to Abramoff.


House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) today accused the Justice Department of trying to ``intimidate’’ him in the wake of his complaints over an FBI raid of a lawmakers’ office who is the target of a corruption probe.

I've been told that Hastert confronted President Bush with his concerns over the FBI raid while they both were in Chicago on Monday.

``What we want to do,’’ Hastert said, ``is not protect people who broke the law. But we need to protect the division of powers and the Constitution of the United States. And that’s one of the things I talked to the President about.’’
The comment about intimidation, made in a morning interview with WGN radio, came in the wake of an ABC News story last night, strongly denied by the Justice Department, that said Hastert was ``in the mix’’ of their probe of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
"This is one of the leaks that come out to try to, you know, intimidate people," Hastert said. ``And we're just not going to be intimidated on it."
Hastert is contemplating suing ABC News and his private lawyers, J. Randolph Evans and Stefan C. Passantino prepared a letter late last night sent to ABC News, stating ``we will take any and all actions necessary to rectify the harm ABC has caused and to hold those at ABC responsible for their conduct.’’
The letter was addressed to ABC chief David Westin, commentator George Stephanopoulos and ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross, who reported the story.
ABC New declined to issue the retraction requested by Hastert.
Hastert, in rare unity with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the raid on the House office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) was an unprecedented intrusion that violated the Constitution’s separation of powers clauses.


Rep. Hastert is considering suing ABC? Even after this was reported in the Sun-Times: 'Hastert deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke Wednesday night said in an interview with the Sun-Times that the story was leaked to ABC in retaliation for Hastert's outspoken criticism. "We've been in discussion with them since Sunday, with the Department of Justice, on this other matter of unconstitutional search and seizure." Stokke said. *** "[T]his is what is called in baseball a brushback pitch. ... ABC News got this from somewhere. I don't think they made this up."'

So it seems that even the Hastert team has admitted that the ABC story was legit -- in as much as it came from a source in the Department of Justice -- so I don't see how a lawsuit against ABC News would ever make it past the preliminary hearing stage.

And Denny said, "This is one of the leaks that come out to try to, you know, intimidate people. And we're just not going to be intimidated on it."

Is he saying ABC is trying to intimidate him? If not, then he should stop blowing smoke and sending blustering letters to ABC. And if the Bush Justice Department is the actual source of the "intimidation" Denny is complaining about, then he should use his broad powers as Speaker of the House to convene hearings on DOJ abuses of power.

And if he isn't willing to do that, perhaps he should just step aside.

If he's got nothing to hide, he shouldn't be afraid. Isn't that what the neocons tell us all of the time?

Possibly, Hastert views the lawsuit as his best means to get evidence on the administration officials who may have leaked it.

If I were Hastert, I would make the Bush White House pay dearly for trying to throw blame on him. I guess now Hastert empathize with all those others who were outed by the Bush Team. They might also think about a new appropriation bill for the Justice department:-)

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 25, 2006 1:36 PM.

Sweet: On WBEZ's (91.5 FM) ``848'' show about 9 a.m. Chicago time to discuss the immigration bill and the ABC/Hastert story was the previous entry in this blog.

Bush: With a nod to Hastert, calls for 45 day cooling off period over raid of lawmakers records. is the next entry in this blog.

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