Craig: The press made me plead guilty

"I am not gay. I have never been gay."

Published August 28, 2007 8:32PM (EDT)

In a short appearance before reporters in Boise this afternoon, Republican Sen. Larry Craig blamed his decision to plead guilty to disorderly conduct charges in Minnesota on the Idaho newspaper that was investigating reports that he'd engaged in sex acts with men.

Craig said he "overreacted" to his arrest in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport because he was under "stress" from the Idaho Statesman's ongoing investigation. In May, just a few weeks before Craig reached under the stall wall in Minnesota, a reporter from the Statesman confronted Craig with questions about and evidence of his sexual orientation -- including a tape recording of a man who said he engaged in a sex act with Craig in a men's room at Washington's Union Station. Craig denied the charges during the Statesman interview. When he was arrested in Minnesota just a few weeks later, he said he decided to plead guilty -- without consulting a lawyer or anyone else -- in the interest of trying to put the matter behind him quickly.

"While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis airport or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hopes of making it go away," Craig said, his wife at his side. "Let me be clear," he added. "I am not gay. I have never been gay."

Craig's attack on the "vicious" newspaper investigation came just minutes after Republican leaders released a statement in which they noted the "reported and disputed circumstances" surrounding his guilty plea and called for an ethics committee review of the case. They also said they would be reviewing "other aspects of the case to see if additional action is required ."

By Tim Grieve

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

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