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Hastert is in trouble

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Hastert tried to pin the blame on Reynolds, and Reynolds is now snitching on Hastert. The Republican House leadership, so freaked out by the mess, has now apparently called for a criminal investigation of Foley. It's a total mess.

From Sunday's Washington Post, front page:

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was notified early this year of inappropriate e-mails from former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) to a 16-year-old page, a top GOP House member said yesterday -- contradicting the speaker's assertions that he learned of concerns about Foley only last week....

Yesterday's developments revealed a rift at the highest echelons of House Republican ranks a month before the Nov. 7 elections, and they threatened to expand the scandal to a full-blown party dilemma.

Only after Reynolds's definitive statement did Hastert concede yesterday that he may have been notified of some of the questionable activities of Foley....

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, questioned yesterday why Alexander had gone to the House Republicans' chief political operative, rather than to other party leaders. "That's to protect a member, not to protect a child," Emanuel said.

With his statement, Reynolds, who is locked in a difficult reelection campaign, signaled he was unwilling to take the fall alone amid partisan attacks that were becoming increasingly vituperative....

Republican insiders said Reynolds spoke out because he was angry that Hastert appeared willing to let him take the blame for the party leadership's silence.

A House GOP leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said that Reynolds realizes he has taken a shot at his leader but that it is understandable.

"This is what happens when one member tries to throw another member under a bus," he aide said.

Last night, Hastert, Boehner and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in a statement that Foley's communications with former pages are "unacceptable and abhorrent," and that his resignation "must now be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system."

The House clerk's office "has taken possession of Congressman Foley's office, and Capitol police officers have been posted in front of his office around-the-clock" to preserve Foley's records and correspondence, said Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean.

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