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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

A reader pointed me to this portion of the Roll Call report on the arrest of Sen. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig (R-ID), as recounted by the arresting officer:

In a recorded interview after his arrest, Craig “either disagreed with me or ‘didn’t recall’ the events as they happened,” the report states.

Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine,” the report states. Craig also told the arresting officer that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor.


I should point out--though I really don't want to--that Craig was seated on the toilet at the time, according to the report.

The AP follows up on Roll Call's report on Sen. Larry Craig's Minneapolis airport restroom tryst, or attempted tryst:

A Hennepin County court docket showed Craig pleading guilty to the disorderly conduct charge Aug. 8, with the court dismissing a charge of gross misdemeanor interference to privacy.

The court docket said the Republican senator was fined $1,000, plus $575 in fees. He was put on unsupervised probation for a year. A sentence of 10 days in the county workhouse was stayed.


Would Senate rules require Craig to report this misdemeanor conviction to the Senate Ethics Committee?

The Idaho Values Alliance--"Making Idaho the Friendliest Place in the World to Raise a Family"--is going to have a hard time swallowing the latest news about its beloved Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for lewd conduct in an airport restroom.

Here's one page of the group's site, a news update where it praises Craig for his "pro-life" vote on stem cell research, followed by a "Bonus Byte" on the perils of homosexuality and airport restrooms:

One of the tragic characteristics of the homosexual lifestyle is its emphasis on anonymous sex and multiple sexual partners. It is a little-acknowledged secret that many active homosexuals will have more than 1,000 sex partners over the course of a lifetime (the average among heterosexuals is seven – still six more than we were designed for). This sordid fact of homosexual life surfaced yesterday in an AP article yesterday that reports on the number of arrests police have made for indecent exposure and public sex acts in the restrooms at Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the world. The increased restroom patrols, begun to apprehend luggage thieves, instead uncovered a rash of sex crimes. Airport restrooms have become so popular that men looking for anonymous sexual trysts with other men have advertised their airport availability on Craigslist. One such ad was from a man saying he was stuck at the airport for three hours and was looking for “discreet, quick action.”


What are the odds of a piece on airport restroom trysts appearing below a picture of Larry Craig in a conservative group's newsletter, not to mention the reference to Craigslist? It's all too much.

It's a pretty short list of headlines that could knock Alberto Gonzales' resignation to second tier status. But the arrest--and guilty plea--of a firebrand conservative U.S. senator for lewd homosexual conduct in a public restroom definitely makes the list.

Roll Call has all the sordid details about Sen. Larry Craig's conviction (although traffic to the site is heavy at the moment). While the ins and outs of public restroom trysts, with an apparent language and protocol all its own, may be titillating, this detail about old run-of-the-mill abuse of power caught my eye:

At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states.


Nice touch. Bet that made quite an impression.

Roll Call:

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

"The resignation of Alberto Gonzales had become inevitable. His situation was a distraction to the Department of Justice and its attempt to carry out its important duties." --Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), who urged Gonzales to replace New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias after Iglesias failed to indict New Mexico Democrats before the 2006 elections. The politically motivated purge of Iglesias and other U.S. attorneys triggered the series of events which ultimately led to Gonzales' resignation.

The President, his Attorney General, and their wives enjoying a light moment yesterday at the President's Texas ranch:




"It's morning in America, Paul." --Fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, speaking to our Paul Kiel, about the resignation of Alberto Gonzales.

Paul Kiel runs down the list of resignations by top DOJ officials in the wake of the U.S. Attorneys purge. It's a remarkable list, especially considering the President's assertion that Alberto Gonzales has not been shown to have done anything wrong.

The New York Times has a little more of the weekend tick-tock leading up to the Gonzales resignation, and I must say that it strikes me as an especially carefully crafted and stage-managed departure:

A senior administration official said today that Mr. Gonzales, who was in Washington, had called the president in Crawford, Tex., on Friday to offer his resignation. The president rebuffed the offer, but said the two should talk face to face on Sunday.

Mr. Gonzales and his wife flew to Texas, and over lunch on Sunday the president accepted the resignation with regret, the official said.

On Saturday night Mr. Gonzales was contacted by his press spokesman to ask how the department should respond to inquiries from reporters about rumors of his resignation, and he told the spokesman to deny the reports.

White House spokesmen also insisted on Sunday that they did not believe that Mr. Gonzales was planning to resign. Aides to senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said over the weekend that they had received no suggestion from the administration that Mr. Gonzales intended to resign.

As late as Sunday afternoon, Mr. Gonzales himself was denying through his spokesman that he was quitting. The spokesman, Brian Rohrekasse, said Sunday that he telephoned the attorney general about the reports of his imminent resignation “and he said it wasn’t true — so I don’t know what more I can say.”


Lying to subordinates and the press is par for the course for these guys (and for much of official Washington in similar circumstances, truth be told). So nothing out of the ordinary there. But this elaborate choreograph, as related to The Times by administration officials, of Bush initially rebuffing the resignation, seems designed to emphasize that the timing and circumstances of Gonzales' departure was of his own choosing and that the President's hand was not being forced by Democrats on the Hill.

In short, I don't buy that tick-tock as being an accurate reflection of events, not with an attorney general who became a bipartisan laughingstock perhaps unparalleled among cabinet officers in U.S. history. The man was run out of town. The White House effort seems designed to minimize the appearance of that fact. If a fraction of the effort that went into stage-managing the politics of the resignation were put into actually running the Justice Department, or governing generally, well, then we wouldn't be mired quite as deeply in this mess as we are.

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