Finally, Vanity Fair
has delivered their take-out on the Mark Foley scandal (or Pagegate, if you prefer). And it's chock full of satisfyingly sordid details.
One figure in particular gets a drubbing: the out-going House Speaker, Dennis Hastert.
Here's Hastert, standing dumbly by when Kirk Fordham, Foley's former chief of staff and then Rep. Tom Reynolds' (R-NY) chief of staff, brings word of the coming calamity -- that ABC News has copies of sexually explicit instant messages sent by Foley to underage pages:
Fordham thought he made it clear that his old boss needed to quit, but Foley couldn't bring himself to do that. The N.R.C.C. headquarters was around the corner, and Fordham made it his next stop. There he found Representative Reynolds and Speaker Hastert. But before he could finish relaying the awful news, Reynolds's face got purple and he began to shout, "He needs to resign, and he needs to do it right now!" The Speaker just sat there, silent, according to Fordham: "He didn't react at all. This was weeks before the election, and they're thinking how this is going to impact us."
And here's Hastert trying to attempt damage control:
Hastert, believing the leadership needed to present a united front, as one by one his colleagues were repudiating his foggy recollections, called a Republican-leadership meeting. That same day, an ethics-committee investigation was pressed for by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (over the objections of those who wanted an independent counsel), its purpose to discover who knew what when about Foley. Blunt, Boehner, and Reynolds were all summoned "to basically get their stories straight for the press," according to a knowledgeable source, who adds, "That to me is where Hastert attempted a cover-up."
Reynolds balked at having such a meeting. "This is stupid! We can't all go and meet privately and try to get our stories straight, because this matter was just referred to the ethics committee," he told Hastert, according to the same source. "In fact, none of us are supposed to be talking to each other, because we are not supposed to talk to potential witnesses." Worse, added Reynolds, "I can tell you anything we say at this leadership meeting is something we have to share with the ethics committee."
The meeting eventually became a conference call, but without Reynolds's participation.
Read the whole thing here