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Hastert: Anyone who knew about Foley 'should go'

Raw Story | October 10 2006

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) addressed the scandal involving former Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) in a brief press conference this morning, RAW STORY has learned.

"You know, we have investigations going," Hastert said. "We have the ethics committee doing an investigation; we have the U.S. attorney general or the -- and the FBI doing an investigation; and on Foley, we have the state of Florida doing an investigation."

"If anybody's found to have hidden information or covered up information, they really should be gone," added Hastert.

Hastert indicated repeatedly that anyone – including people in his own staff – who knew about the Foley messages and did not report them should be fired. He also denied claims that he himself knew about Foley's messages or "any other contacts or any other incidents, inappropriate contacts between Congressman Foley and the pages" long before the scandal broke.

Excerpts from transcript of Hastert press briefing:

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Q Can you describe your meeting with Dr. Paul this morning?

Q (Off mike) -- comment, please, on a statement by Representative Kolbe of Arizona about the incident in 2001 or 2002, where he says a former page came to him with complaints about inappropriate e-mails from Congressman Foley, and he says he reported those then to Congressman Foley's office and to the clerk of the page program. Can you comment about what you know about that?

SPEAKER HASTERT: All I know is that Congressman Kolbe at that time was on the page board. I replaced him, I think, in 2002 or 2003. But he was on the page board. That was his -- in a sense, his job to do that, that confrontation. I don't know anything more about it. If it was something that was of a nature that should have been reported or brought forward, then he should have done that. You know, we have investigations going. We have the ethics committee doing an investigation; we have the U.S. attorney general or the -- and the FBI doing an investigation; and on Foley, we have the state of Florida doing an investigation. If anybody's found to have hidden information or covered up information, they really should be gone.

Q Were you aware --

Q How satisfied are you with how your staff has handled the scandal, though? And should anyone resign in your staff? How satisfied are you with how your staff has handled the scandal so far and whether anyone should resign in your office?

SPEAKER HASTERT: Well, I -- you know, look, this -- I understand -- I have understood what my staff's told me, and I think from that response they've handled it as well as they should. However, in 20-20 hindsight, probably you could do everything a little bit better. But if there is problem, if there was a cover-up, then we should find that out through the investigation process. They'll be under oath, and we'll find out. If they did cover something up, then they should not continue to have their jobs, but I --

Q (Off mike) -- this morning?

SPEAKER HASTERT: -- I didn't think anybody at any time in my office did anything wrong. I found out about these revelations last Friday. That was the first information that I had about it.

Q Mr. Speaker, as of last Friday when the story first broke, had you been aware of any other contacts -- I'm not talking specifically about the instant messages -- but any other contacts or any other incidents, inappropriate contacts between Congressman Foley and the pages?

SPEAKER HASTERT: No.

STAFF: One more question.

Q (Inaudible) -- this morning and that you said you would for the good of the country if that's what it took.

SPEAKER HASTERT: That's a privileged conversation.

Q Mr. Speaker, what is it that your staff told you happened?

SPEAKER HASTERT: Well, you know, I've been in contact with my staff ever since last Friday. I was back a week ago last Monday, and we spent the whole day going over. I asked for an internal investigation, and the internal investigations are available to anybody that wants it, but it has been printed as well. You know, we focused on the Foley situation -- who knew, when -- and you know, that's public information. That's all I know.

(Cross talk.)

STAFF: One more.

Q (Off mike) -- such a lightning rod in this whole crisis?

SPEAKER HASTERT: I'm not making accusations what's fair and what's not fair. The reality is here, and you know, I think what we're trying to do is to find somebody to make this case work better, to bring in -- I asked Louis Freeh to do it. Nancy Pelosi had rejected him for some reason. So we're going to continue to find somebody to had up to do an investigation and make sure that we can this page situation much better, and -- if we have to do it. The problem we have to do today is, you know, this didn't happen under our -- while the pages were in Washington.

It happened after these people left -- my understanding -- left the page program -- at least the ones we're dealing with now -- left the program, and they were contacted after they left the program.

We need to have a 1-800 number which would be put in place so that parents or anybody who's concerned -- grandparents, aunts, uncles, anybody else that's concerned about this -- can have a way of contacting the Congress, and then we can do something about it. But we need to expedite this process, and we need to be able to find out, number one, if there was any problems in the past, people ought to come forward; and secondly, we can ensure that this problem doesn't happen in the future, and I think that's an important piece of this.

STAFF: Thank you.

SPEAKER HASTERT: Thanks a lot.

Q Why did you agree to meet --

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