Hastert flip-flops, Foley's lawyer equivocates

Did the speaker ask Foley to resign? Did the congressman have physical contact with pages?

Published October 3, 2006 11:14PM (EDT)

It turns out that Rep. John Boehner isn't the only one having a hard time keeping his Mark Foley story straight. As ABC News reports, House Speaker Dennis Hastert is flipping and flopping on Foleygate, too.

Here's Hastert at a press conference Monday: "I think Foley resigned almost immediately upon the outbreak of this information, and so we really didn't have a chance to ask him to resign."

And here's Hastert in a radio interview today: "We found out about it, asked him to resign. He did resign. He's gone."

Foley is ndeed gone, but he seems determined not to be forgotten. Foley's lawyer held a press conference this afternoon -- at Foley's request, one would assume -- to announce a) that Foley was molested by a clergyman as a teenager, b) that Foley is gay and c) that Foley is an "acknowledged" alcoholic.

Asked if Foley ever had physical contact with the pages with whom he communicated, Foley's lawyer said: "Based on all the information that I have, Mark Foley has never ever had an inappropriate sexual contact with a minor in his life." Note the triple hedge there: "Based on all the information that I have," "inappropriate" and "minor." As John Aravosis notes at AMERICAblog, some jurisdictions set the age of consent at 16, meaning Foley's lawyer's use of the word "minor" might mean only that his client hasn't -- at least based on the information he has -- had sex with anyone 15 or under. Congressional pages must be at least 16 years old at the time of their appointment.

By Tim Grieve

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

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