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.