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Josh Marshall asks Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert, who's on first?

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[GOP Congressman] Alexander's Chief of Staff calls [GOP Speaker Denny] Hastert's office about emails "he and Congressman Alexander were concerned about it." But he doesn't tell the guy in Hastert's office what the emails say. The two staffs meet again later. But somehow what the emails actually say? Still not discussed.

They send Alexander's Chief of Staff to the [GOP] Clerk's Office. The Clerk asks to see the emails. But "Congressman Alexander's office declined citing the fact that the family wished to maintain as much privacy as possible and simply wanted the contact to stop."

When asked by the Clerk whether the emails are "of a sexual nature", Alexander's Chief of Staff tells him they're not but calls them "over-friendly."

Now, here's the problem as far as I can see this. Supposedly, no one in a position of authority ever lays eyes on these emails, presumably because they're relatively innocuous. But at the same time they can't be seen by anyone else because "family wished to maintain as much privacy as possible." Those two points don't really square in my mind.

So the Clerk and [GOP] Rep. Shimkus meet with [GOP Congressman Mark] Foley having never seen the emails in question -- either because they're basically innocuous or because of concern for the family's privacy. Take your pick.

So they give Foley a clean bill of health having never reviewed the emails that raised the concerns.

And Hastert's staffers?

"Mindful of the sensitivity to the parent's wishes to protect their child's privacy and believing that they had promptly reported what they knew to the proper authorities [the three members of Hastert's office] did not discuss the matter with others in the Speaker's Office."

Basically, everyone's so mindful of the sensitivity of the matter they manage never to investigate what actually happened. Isn't that what they're saying?

And also, as luck would have it, the extreme sensitivity to the parent's feelings helps keep the entire matter hermetically sealed from Speaker Hastert.

So everyone's very mindful of the privacy of the family. But somehow [GOP Majority Leader] Rep. Boehner and [GOP] Rep. Reynolds found out about it from Rep. Alexander. And Reynolds mentioned it to Hastert. But Hastert doesn't remember. And Boehner told Hastert about it too. And Hastert said it was being taken care of. Only Hastert never heard about it...

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