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Congressional Quarterly (sub. req.) has an interesting article out. Based on an interview with conservative power broker Paul Weyrich, the magazine contends that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) would resign if he thought it would help the GOP -- but he doesn't think it would, so he won't step down:

. . .Weyrich said Hastert has rejected calls for his resignation because he believes it would prompt “a feeding frenzy” that ultimately would lead to the downfall of other GOP leaders as well.

“He said if he thought that resigning would be helpful to the Republicans maintaining the majority, he would do it. But he did not think it would be helpful for Republicans,” Weyrich said in an interview after holding what he described as an emotional telephone conversation with Hastert, who is home in Illinois campaigning and trying to deal with the fallout from the Mark Foley scandal.


Now, to put it in context, media in Chicago report that Hastert is basically cornered inside his own home. The house has been flanked by legions of media, who haven't seen him come or go for many hours. The local TV news is running an American Idol-style "Should Hastert Resign?" text message poll.

In other words, it doesn't sound like Hastert's doing much "campaigning." And with a tide of "fallout" literally breaking on his front doorstep, it's not clear he's effectively "dealing" with it.

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Newsweek reporting:

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra [(R-MI)] is still pressing U.S. intelligence agencies to look for possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq-even though intelligence officials say further work is unlikely to reveal anything new about Saddam's WMD programs. . .

Jamal Ware, a spokesman for the intelligence [committee] chairman, confirmed to Newsweek that Hoekstra recently passed along photographs and other reports about possible WMD sites that had been forwarded to the committee by U.S. soldiers, former intelligence officials and Iraqis following the June press conference with Santorum. "People who have been over there [in Iraq] ... they've sent us information and we've referred that on to the appropriate agencies," Ware said.


"The Bush administration has not been particularly eager to embrace Hoekstra's mission," the magazine notes.

Hastert Vows To Hold On In an interview with The Chicago Tribune last night, Hastert said there's no way he's resigning -- after all, it's not his fault -- it was those scheming Democratic strategists. From the Tribune:

"No. Look, I've talked to our members," Hastert said. "Our members are supportive. I think that [resignation] is exactly what our opponents would like to have happen--that I'd fold my tent and others would fold our tent and they would sweep the House."

When asked about a groundswell of discontent among the GOP's conservative base over his handling of the issue, Hastert said in the phone interview: "I think the base has to realize after a while, who knew about it? Who knew what, when? When the base finds out who's feeding this monster, they're not going to be happy. The people who want to see this thing blow up are ABC News and a lot of Democratic operatives, people funded by [liberal activist] George Soros."

He went on to suggest that operatives aligned with former President Bill Clinton knew about the allegations and were perhaps behind the disclosures in the closing weeks before the Nov. 7 midterm elections, but he offered no hard proof.

"All I know is what I hear and what I see," the speaker said. "I saw Bill Clinton's adviser, Richard Morris, was saying these guys knew about this all along. If somebody had this info, when they had it, we could have dealt with it then."

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ThinkProgress has a nice scoop on House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

Earlier today, Hastert's office called a Chicago radio station and asked to do an interview this evening, TP reports. The show consented. But later in the day, former Hill staffer Kirk Fordham made serious allegations that Hastert had misled the public about when he and his staff learned of Mark Foley's misdeeds.

Suddenly, it became very difficult for Hastert to keep that interview appointment:

[Hastert flack Chris] Taylor called [the show's producer] several times claiming that Hastert was on an important call and likely might not be available in time for the interview. But according to [Matt] Bubala [the show's producer], an employee for WGN’s sister television station said that while Hastert was supposedly on a telephone call, a WGN cameraman was filming Hastert arriving at and entering his home in Illinois.


The National Review, however, reports that Hastert's people are denying any interview was ever scheduled. “We never booked WGN. Am not aware of a call,” the magazine's blog, The Corner, quotes a "top" Hastert official.

It's safe to say that Washington politicos are jittery tonight, shell-shocked from the revelations in the Mark Foley scandal that keep exploding all around them. The quiet gives them time to wonder: What will tomorrow bring?

For one, we're hearing that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), who's been heaped with scorn and blame over the scandal, is planning a press conference in Chicago tomorrow morning. No word on what he'll say, although speculation abounds that he may announce he's quitting his leadership post -- either now or after the elections.

Numerous press accounts have hinted that lawmakers besides Foley have engaged in untoward behavior with pages; anybody ready to go to print with what they've got?

Finally, the House ethics committee is reconvening tomorrow, in a special session to deal with the Foley mess. They're expected to approve an investigation of some sort. Folks from both sides of the aisle have called for a special prosecutor. Desperate to take some decisive action and quiet the angry criticism from within their own party, the GOP might encourage the committee to appoint one, rather than have the ethics panel investigate the matter on its own.

Update: Forgot to mention that at 2 p.m. Eastern, Washingtonpost.com will host a web discussion with Bryce Chitwood (that's really his name!), president of the 2002-2003 class of House pages. So you too can find out what it's like to chat online with a former page.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) alibi for failing to address Mark Foley's follies is toast, as Greg points out over at Election Central.

Kirk Fordham's revelation that House Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) staff was warned about the "worrisome conduct" of Mark Foley with teenage pages back in 2004 completely explodes Hastert's explanation for why his office didn't do more in the fall of 2005.

The House Speaker has argued that Foley's emails that came to light in 2005 weren't sufficiently explicit to warrant action -- in stark contrast to the sexual IM conversations, the emails were merely "over-friendly." But in the context of prior specific warnings about Foley, such an explanation seems even weaker -- even dishonest.

Hastert, through his spokesman, has flatly denied Fordham's accusations: "That never happened."

But Fordham's sticking by it, saying "Rather than trying to shift the blame on me, those who are employed by these House Leaders should acknowledge what they know about their action or inaction in response to the information they knew about Mr. Foley prior to 2005."

Update: Fordham's starting to name names, too. "Fordham. . . said that as far back as 2003, Hastert chief of staff Scott Palmer had been told that Foley was too friendly with pages," ABC reports. "According to Fordham, Palmer spoke to Foley about the matter." The network says it could not reach Palmer for comment.

Bloomberg reports that the Washington Times will soon have company in calling for Hastert's head over the Mark Foley scandal:

Human Events, a conservative national weekly, will call on House Republicans to elect new leaders in an edition that goes to press tomorrow, said Tom Winter, the editor-in-chief.

``We think the Republicans need new leaders, and I don't think Hastert will be there much longer,'' Winter said. ``I think he has to do this for the team, he has to step down.''

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) just weighed in on the Foley scandal, opining that House Republican leaders should step down.

"[I]t is clear that there was knowledge of improper, immoral, and possibly criminal behavior, and the leadership did nothing about it," she's quoted as saying in a statement from her office. "That leadership should go[.]”

Full statement after the jump.

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AP reporting:

A senior congressional aide said Wednesday he told House Speaker Dennis Hastert's office in 2004 about worrisome conduct by former Rep. Mark Foley with teenage pages -- the earliest known alert to the GOP leadership.

Kirk Fordham told The Associated Press that when he was told about Foley's inappropriate behavior toward pages, he had "more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of Representatives asking them to intervene." The conversations took place long before the e-mail scandal broke, Fordham said, and at least a year earlier than members of the House GOP leadership have acknowledged.

Because there's more muck spewing out of the Mark Foley scandal than one blog can handle, here's an afternoon roundup of the best from around the blogosphere.

Former Clintonite George Stephanopolous says Hastert is "hanging by a thread," and, buddy, he knows what he's talking about (ThinkProgress). . . Why the GOP's insistence that the scandal is the fault of a vast, left-wing conspiracy doesn't hold water (ThinkProgress). . . NY Times Editorial Slams Hastert, Boehner, Reynolds, Shimkus (AmericaBlog). . . Conservative icon Richard Viguerie calls on House Republican leadership to resign (AmericaBlog). . . GOP incumbent cancels appearance with Hastert (TPM). . . John "America's Most Wanted" Walsh rebuts conservative anti-gay smears (ThinkProgress) . . . You, too, can save your instant messages, just like Mark Foley's favorite former pages (Michelle Malkin). . . Mark Foley was an AIM megabuddy (Wonkette). . . Does Foley scandal have a silver lining? (TPM). . . In truth, seven and a half inches isn't a big deal (Wonkette)

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