Hastert holds off on probe anouncement

He says he'll run for speaker again in January.

Published October 5, 2006 6:35PM (EDT)

House speaker Dennis Hastert is speaking to the press now about Foleygate, but he isn't making the announcement that everyone expected. As we noted earlier today, Roll Call and Fox News both reported before Hastert's press conference that he would be announcing that former FBI Director Louis Freeh would lead an investigation into the House page program. But in the opening statement in his press conference, Hastert said only that he's "looking for a person of high caliber" to advise House leaders about the page program, that he's in discussions with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the question, and that he hopes to announce something further soon.

CNN, quoting a Republican source, says that Pelosi rejected Hastert's proposal to have Freeh run a probe.

Although Hastert said that Republicans might have handled the page scandal better, he insisted that he has done nothing wrong, and he said that he intends to run for reelection as House speaker in January.

In response to questions from reporters, Hastert attempted to discredit charges that former Tom Reynolds and Mark Foley chief of staff Kirk Fordham had warned Hastert's office about Foley several years ago, and he dismissed Foley's e-mail exchange with a 16-year-old former page -- the one that didn't prompt much of an investigation by House Republicans -- as nothing more than a "Katrina message." While that e-mail exchange did make reference to Hurricane Katrina, it also featured Foley requesting a picture from the former page and asking him what kind of "stuff" he liked to do.

By Tim Grieve

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

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