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Hastert deputy: ABC story leaked in retaliation for Hastrict Justice Department criticism. What do you think?


Hastert deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke Wednesday night said in an interview with the Sun-Times that the story was leaked to ABC News in retaliation for Hastert’s outspoken criticism of a Justice raid of the Capitol Hill office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.).

“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. “I don’t recall any threats being made, but this is what is called in baseball a brushback pitch. . . . ABC News got this from somewhere. I don’t think they made this up.’’

the story from thursday sun-times

Justice Dept. denies Hastert is being investigated
May 25, 2006

BY LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- Shortly after ABC News reported Wednesday that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert was being investigated as part of the broader probe of convicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Justice Department took the unusual step of issuing a denial.

ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross reported Wednesday night that unnamed "senior law enforcement officials" were "seeking to determine" Hastert's role in "an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress.''

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse told the Chicago Sun-Times that "Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Department of Justice."

ABC said the story was "based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.'' Cooperation with law enforcement officials is often a factor in a plea deal that could reduce the length of a prison sentence.

Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean demanded a retraction from ABC News, calling the story "absolutely untrue." ABC News declined to issue a retraction.

The ABC story touched off an immediate political response. Within minutes of the broadcast, spokesmen for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political operation chaired by Rep. Rahm Emanuel, sent out e-mails and calls to draw attention to the report.

The ABC report said Hastert, 64, is "very much in the mix'' of the corruption investigation centering around Abramoff.

Was it retaliation?

The Justice Department statement is unusual in that the agency's standard operating procedure is to neither confirm nor deny the existence of any investigation.

Bonjean said the Hastert office did not ask the Justice Department to issue the statement.

The ABC story comes as Hastert has been blistering the FBI for raiding the House building offices of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) as part of the ongoing, separate corruption probe of the lawmaker, on the grounds that the Justice Department violated the separation-of-powers clauses of the Constitution.

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. "I don't recall any threats being made, but this is what is called in baseball a brushback pitch. ... ABC News got this from somewhere. I don't think they made this up.''

The ABC story focus was on a letter Hastert wrote June 10, 2003 -- and previously reported on -- asking then-Interior Secretary Gail Norton to block a Coushatta tribe casino in an Indian reservation in Louisiana. Casinos run by the Jena band of Choctaw Indian tribes and represented by Abramoff were seeking to prevent the opening of a competing casino. The letter was written days after Hastert held a fund-raiser at a restaurant owned by Abramoff.

In January, the day after Abramoff pleaded guilty to corruption charges, Hastert decided to give about $60,000 in campaign donations collected from clients of Abramoff to charity.

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'"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. "I don't recall any threats being made, but this is what is called in baseball a brushback pitch. ... ABC News got this from somewhere. I don't think they made this up."'

When the Republican exective branch uses a Justice Department gives the press a false leak of a criminal investigation of the Republican Speaker of the House -- as a 'brushback pitch' -- it is clearer than ever that the GOP is either incapable of or uninterested in actually governing this country.

I am no longer solely concerned about the damage that the Republicans are doing to this country by acting in concert. Now I am also worried about the damage that they will inflict on the nation through their internecine fighting in these closing days of Republican dominance.

I am surprised that it has taken this long for this to be brought up by the MSM. Hastert is Delay's puppet and everyone knows it. Where DeLay is dirty, Hastert is dirty. I am waiting for the investigation of the campaign donations of $5000 that Hastert received from several foreign govt's in violation of camapign finance laws.

Speaker Hastert has a valid point in criticizing the FBI's intrusion and seizure of items in the Congressional Office of Rep. William Jefferson. I don't know if someone in the Justice Department leaked the alleged investigation of Speaker Hastert because of his criticism of the raid in the Rayburn House Office Building. But that would not surprise me. On the other hand, for the Justice Department to respond one way or the other to a media outlet's report is troubling. It was wrong and against their own policy. The Feds should be unmoved and unresponsive to any public expressions by elected officials or media. It gives the aura that they can be swayed or influenced by public opinion, or even worse, political persuasion. The biggest local example that I recall of this type of shenanigans by the feds happened in 1998 when former U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar made a statement that Governor Ryan was not a target of the Operation Safe Road investigation shortly before the November election. That was outrageous for a U.S. Attorney to say. It was like he was blessing a candidate before an election. Governor Ryan went on to win the election. I'm not judging George Ryan in my comments just the behavior of the U.S. Attorney.


Actually, I think Hastert's throwing up the separation of powers argument because he's afraid his office is going to get raided and agents will find something incriminating.

The conservatives have been telling us that we have nothing to worry about if we've got nothing to hide with regards to Bush's phone taps.

Now, suddenly, Hastert's worried about "rights"?

What's the matter Hastert? Do YOU have something to hide?

Let's see, Republicans are embroiled in a "culture of corruption" public relations nightmare, i.e. Abramhoff, Delay, Ney, Cunningham, to name just a few! All of a sudden the FBI raids a Democratic Congressman's office. This has Karl Rove written all over it. Our current A.G., the torture guy, is nothing more than a Bush/Rove pawn. Delay's office was never investigated. Nor were Cunningham's or Ney's. The Feds didn't even enter Rostankoski's office after his run-ins with the law. This is nothing more than Bush and his cronies shredding the Constitution...AGAIN...for their own partisan political gain. Wake up and smell the corruption!

On May 23rd, I read a newspaper article about the execution of a Federal search warrant at the office of Congressman William Jefferson. In that article it was reported that, “House Speaker Dennis Hastert questioned whether the raid of the congressman’s office, believed the first in history, overstepped constitutional limitations on executive power.��?

In response to that article, I promptly faxed Congressman Hastert a letter asking him if that quote was indeed accurate; and if so, I also requested that he answer the following two questions:

1.) Are Members of Congress exempt from the execution of search warrants which have been lawfully obtained pursuant to Federal law?; and,
2.) Are Members of Congress free to engage in criminal activities with impunity so long as they do so within the confines of the U.S. Capitol?

I commented to Congressman Hastert that if the answer to either of those questions was “yes,��? I would appreciate his directing me to the appropriate legal source of such privilege, so I could study it and correct any misunderstanding I have about “no one being above the law��?.

I have yet to receive an answer.

Cedric, perhaps you could enlighten us by citing that portion of the Constitution that says that issuance of a search warrant by a magistrate or execution of it by a law enforcement officer somehow violates the separation of powers doctrine, which would have to involve unlawful exercise of a legislative power by the judiciary or executive.

ABC News must have a ROCK SOLID source (and maybe even some doc's) because they have BOLDLY refused to back down from the story, even after a threatening letter from Hastert's counsel!

I think I keep repeating myself on this blog. Hastert is probably no less, no more dirty than the majority of our elected Federal representatives. Unfortunately, the voters no longer have control of the goings-on in Washington. The standard argument is that you make your feelings known at the ballot box. Total BS! We get the choice between TweedleDee and TweedleDum every election for every office. The Alphabet networks CBS, NBC, and ABC don't champion the cause of the downtrodden American voters. They champion their own agendas , which typically are liberal, elitist ones. Is Jefferson guilty? Probably. Is Hastert guilty? Once again, probably. Scratch a senator or congressman and you'll find a self-serving party hack. Term limitation and open primaries might eliminate some of the dominance these two corrupt parties have on our government. Alas, our media will never beat that drum because the scandals involving the tweedle parties sell too much copy and generate too much ad revenue. I truly miss the days of Huntley and Brinkley. The editorials were saved for the end of the broadcast, not saturated through all of the reporting. For you Democrats out there salivating at the mention of any Republican scandal; Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it. The record of the Democrats is no better than their counterparts. The only difference will be concerning the press. You might not get as many free passes past GO.

Corruption and this administration go hand in hand. It does look like Hastert is hiding something. Democrat or Republican if there is nothing to hide, there is nothing to worry about.

He is setting a precedent. If it can be established Congress is above the usual searches the rest of America will accept, there is yet another wall of defense for all Congressmen in all investigations to come. surely, the Speaker knows who is about to be investigated or who is currently worth a look.

Very good reading. Peace until next time.

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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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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 24, 2006 11:01 PM.

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