Larry Craig’s “intent” to deceive

First he hid his guilty plea. Now he has misled his colleagues and his constituents.

Topics: War Room, Roy Ashburn,

What’s worse for Larry Craig — the idea that he might be flip-flopping on his plan to resign from the Senate or the fact that he intentionally misled his colleagues and his constituents about his plans in the first place?

Here’s the story. When everyone thought Craig was announcing his resignation Saturday, he was, in fact, just announcing his “intent” to resign. “It is with sadness and deep regret,” Craig said then, “that I announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate, effective Sept. 30.”

Beyond that “intent to resign” business, Craig gave no hint that he was equivocating. Indeed, he gave every indication that he wasn’t. He said he was setting his intended resignation date a month out because he hoped “to allow a smooth and orderly transition” for his replacement. He said he had “full confidence” that Idaho’s Republican governor “will appoint a successor who will serve Idaho with distinction.” He apologized to the people of Idaho “for being unable to serve out a term to which I have been elected.”

It turns out that he just didn’t mean it. On the way to making his “intent”-to-resign announcement, Craig called somebody he thought was his new communications strategist and said that since Sen. Arlen Specter was “willing to come out” in his defense, he had “reshaped” the statement he was going to make so that it would say “it is my intent to resign on Sept. 30.” He then asked his new crisis team to come out with guns blazing as soon as the announcement was over to “drive the story that I’m willing to fight.”



The latest official word from Craig’s office: Craig spokesman Dan Whiting tells the Washington Post: “As he stated on Saturday, Sen. Craig intends to resign on Sept. 30th. However, he is fighting these charges, and should he be cleared before then, he may, and I emphasize may, not resign.”

Now, if only Craig had announced his “intent to plead guilty” rather than actually doing so, he might find a judge willing to reverse his conviction, a Senate Ethics Committee willing to go away and a lot of misled constituents and colleagues ready to have him back.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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