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The Hastert "In the Mix" Story

Updated

Earlier tonight ABC News' The Blotter reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was under investigation by the feds.

I received two e-mails from Krista Cole, a House staffer, in reponse to this article. The first denied The Blotter report:

"Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department."

The second, from Ron Bonjean, Speaker Hastert's Communications Director, demanded a retraction:

"The ABC News report is absolutely untrue. As confirmed by the Justice Department, 'Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department.' We are demanding a full retraction of the ABC News story. The Speaker's earlier statement issued today accurately reflects the facts regarding this matter."

The Blotter issued an update on the story, and Brian Ross, the blog's author, is not backing down:

Despite a flat denial from the Department of Justice, federal law enforcement sources tonight said ABC News accurately reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is "in the mix" in the FBI investigation of corruption in Congress.


Speaker Hastert said tonight the story was "absolutely untrue" and has demanded ABC News retract its story.

Law enforcement sources told ABC News that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has provided information to the FBI about Hastert and a number of other members of Congress that have broadened the scope of the investigation. Sources would not divulge details of the Abramoff's information.

"You guys wrote the story very carefully but they are not reading it very carefully," a senior official said.

The "in the mix" statement directly contradicts the Department of Justice statement. For Speaker Hastert to be "in the mix" of an investigation means that he has to be part of the investigation, which the DOJ flatly denied. Brian Ross appears to be standing by a story that doesn't have legs.

Hugh Hewitt, Instapundit, and Michelle Malkin are following the story.

Update: Hugh Hewitt points out that the text of the story has changed since its original publication. Here's the text of the article as cited by Hastert's office:

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigtaion by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from high level official sources.

Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbysists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time.

The day Abramoff was indicted, Hastert denied any unlawful connection and said he would donate to charity any campaign contribution he had received from Abramoff and his clients.

A spokesman for Speaker Hastert told ABC News, "We are not aware of this. The Speaker has a long history and a well-documented record of opposing Indian Reservation shopping for casino gaming purposes."

This week, Hastert has been outspoken in his criticism of the FBI for its raid on the office of anotehr congressman under investigation, Democrat William Jefferson of Louisiana.

"My opinion is that they toook the worng path, Hastert said of the FBI. "They need to back up, and we need to go from there."

Compare that to what now appears on The Blotter, which is the article I linked to earlier in this post:

Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time

Quite a different story.

And quite an old one. Dan Riehl points out that these details were originally published by the San Jose Mercury News in January of this year, four months ago:

Investigative reporter Brian Ross certainly is quite a sleuth. So, why is it his story contains even less detail than this archived story below from Mercury News via the Chicago Tribune dated ... wait for it ... January 4th. Way to go, Brian. Hell of a scoop! You were had and allowed it to go out to the world as news when it wasn't news at all.

And Dan provides this additional information:

Also, it needs to be pointed out that the new Ross non-story includes these key elements: the Justice Department denial was meant only to deny that Hastert was a formal "target" or "subject" of the investigation ... The investigation of Hastert's relationship with Abramoff is in the early stages, according to these officials, and could eventually conclude that Abramoff's information was unfounded.


Consequently, there are no new facts in the Ross story and actually fewer than those published months ago. What was done is that the ties to Democrats were, for some reason, left out of this latest reporting rehash, which does not advance the story from January one single bit.

The Ross / ABC headline grabbing story is a non-story, perhaps fed to him by someone who wanted to take a shot at Hastert. And not even a web search was done to flesh the story out, or discover that Ross was being had. There is no news here whatsoever, other than what could have been known or assumed from reading the Chicago Tribune four months ago. In fact, there is less information - and pertinent facts omitted serve to make it appear worse than it might be.

So, let's get back to the real corruption that's going on here: Rep. William Jefferson was caught on camera accepting a $100,000 bribe. Human Events asks this about the mainstream media's response to Rep. Jefferson's behavior: "Where's the Outrage?"


TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Hastert "In the Mix" Story:

» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Bipartisan Furor Over FBI Raid

» Political Satire Fake News - The Nose On Your Face linked with ABC News Reports Hastert Ties To Fort Courage

» The Sandbox linked with Dennis Hastert, Office Protector

» Shoot a Liberal linked with Hastert! It’s Time For You To Be Impaled!

» La Shawn Barber's Corner linked with Republicans Are Funny

Comments (28)

Say what you want, but the ... (Below threshold)

Say what you want, but the way he crowed about the FBI searching William Jefferson's (D-La)congressional office tells me he's hiding something.

You would expect the Republicans in Congress to use the Jefferson investigation to counter the "culture of corruption" line coming from the left, but they don't.I thought, "Okay, maybe they're trying to stay above the partisan fighting." The way he flipped his lid over a perfectly legal search of a criminal's office gives this story the aroma of truthiness.

Me thinks The Speaker doth protest too much.

I think ABC is going to sne... (Below threshold)
Ken:

I think ABC is going to sneak by with the interpretation that a witness in an FBI investigation is "in the mix" of that investigation.

Sleazy cowards.

<a href="http://bl... (Below threshold)
Lee:
The Blotter

Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time.

The original article I saw ... (Below threshold)

The original article I saw at the blotter said something much stronger than "in the mix". The first two paragraphs were:

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from high level government sources.

Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

The first two paragraphs of that very same link NOW say:

Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

So that article has essentially been replaced at the same link with a different text. I cut/pasted the first two paragraphs at strata-sphere earlier today. The article has since been replaced with a different text.

oops, the next to last para... (Below threshold)

oops, the next to last paragraph above should have also been in italics, I messed up, it is the second paragraph of the current article. The last paragraph is my remarks.

Whether Hastert did any thi... (Below threshold)
cubanbob:

Whether Hastert did any thing illegal or not remains to be seen. What is amazing is just how cheap these Congressional whores are. 90 grand this putz Jefferson took among others is just so low rent. They can't even steal for their own gain on a grand scale yet they vote on 2 plus trillion in spending.
I would give the bastards 5% of the gross tax revenue to split amongst themselves if they would cut spending to the point of running a small surplus without raising taxes.

<a href="http://w... (Below threshold)
Lee:
from CNN:

However, ABC News posted a statement on its Web site late Wednesday standing by the story.

The network said law enforcement sources told ABC that the Justice Department denial meant only that the speaker was not a formal "target" or "subject" of the probe, not that he wasn't under investigation.

Hastert deflected questions about the report while on his way to the House floor by telling reporters to "ask the Justice Department."

Asked where the report came from, the speaker shook his head and said, "Somebody leaked it."

A senior aide to Hastert told CNN that the speaker first learned about the report after it aired. ABC News called shortly before its deadline asking for a response, and his office issued a denial after checking with their lawyers, the aide said.

While Hastert did not personally talk to anyone at the Justice Department, senior staff called to find out about the report and were told that the department would be putting out a denial, the aide said.

The more I chew on this the... (Below threshold)

The more I chew on this the madder I am getting. ABC went back and modified the story at the same URL. The comments are still there mostly from the original story which was much more damning. They went back and replaced the article text with something completely different.

So they print an article that says the Speaker is under investigation by the FBI in exactly those very words, then the Speaker's office demands a retraction, then ABC changes the article but says "we stand behind it, you aren't reading it carefully". Horse feathers! That is dishonest journalism, it shows a serious lack of integrity by ABC news, and it's Just Plain Wrong. How in the world can a trade that expects certain constitutional protections act with such a blatent lack of integrity? Did they think nobody would notice? What a load of Goobers.

Yeah, Lee, they are "standi... (Below threshold)

Yeah, Lee, they are "standing by" a different story than the one they originally published!

Different? or more specific... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Different? or more specific?

It went from:

"The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI,"

to

Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

The change indicates that Hastert is not the subject of the investigation, as ABC originally reported, but that the scope of the investigation does include Hastert.

What hasn't changed is that Hastert is looking dirty. It may explain the monkey dance he's been doing over the FBI search of Jefferson's office.

What exactly is he so afraid of...?

Because in the second artic... (Below threshold)

Because in the second article, it could mean that Hastert is ASSISTING the investigation. "Includes" can mean a lot of things but we do know one thing, according to the FBI Hastert isn't under investigation. He could be a witness, his name might be mentioned somewhere in a document, it could mean anything. But when the FBI says he isn't under investigation, when the ABC story explicitly says he WAS under investigation and then ABC says "you aren't reading the story carefully enough" and I go back and see it's a DIFFERENT STORY, it is dishonest journalism. It is okay to run a different story but you don't go back and change the original as if it was never written the other way without so much as an editors note. It's just plain wrong. That article is an out and out, bald faced lie at this point.

Let me give you an example.... (Below threshold)

Let me give you an example. Let's say I am a major media outlet, say CNN. Lets say I post an article that says I have sources that prove that Al Gore was taking money from some environment think tank to get federal studies sent their way for research and everyone picks up on it and the word goes all around that Gore is busted. Gore says it isn't true, and the group involved says it isn't true. Gore demands a retraction and then I go back and modify the article to say only that Al Gore was "involved" with the environmental group (let's say he's on their board of directors) and I say I stand by the story, you just aren't reading it close enough. That's dishonest and makes me a liar and makes my organization a liar.

Here is the full text as it... (Below threshold)

Here is the full text as it originally appeared at the URL:

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigtaion by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from high level official sources.

Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbysists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time.

The day Abramoff was indicted, Hastert denied any unlawful connection and said he would donate to charity any campaign contribution he had received from Abramoff and his clients.

A spokesman for Speaker Hastert told ABC News, "We are not aware of this. The Speaker has a long history and a well-documented record of opposing Indian Reservation shopping for casino gaming purposes."

This week, Hastert has been outspoken in his criticism of the FBI for its raid on the office of anotehr congressman under investigation, Democrat William Jefferson of Louisiana.

"My opinion is that they toook the worng path, Hastert said of the FBI. "They need to back up, and we need to go from there."


As you can see, what is currently at that URL is completely different. ABC says "the story was carefully written, you aren't reading it carefully". They are, of course, talking about the modified article, not the original that caused the news storm. The original didn't need parsing, it was clear. The current article is doublespeak. It can mean anything to anyone depending on your agenda when reading it.

What does "under investigat... (Below threshold)

What does "under investigation" mean, if one is not a "subject" or "target?"

This is semantical bullshit.

Abramoff sings like a canary, he mentions every rep he or his toadies met with. Obviously, the Speaker has to be on that list or Ambramoff would be quite a crappy lobbyist.

So the FBI "looks into it."

wavemaker:Abram... (Below threshold)
Truzenzuzex:

wavemaker:

Abramoff sings like a canary, he mentions every rep he or his toadies met with. Obviously, the Speaker has to be on that list or Ambramoff would be quite a crappy lobbyist.

Could be.

Or could it be that Democrat partisans at the FBI want to change the subject away from Jeffersons' alleged indiscretions?

If so, they have been wildly successful.

Truzenzuzex : Democrat part... (Below threshold)

Truzenzuzex : Democrat partisans didn't change the subject, Dennis Hastert changed the subject when he started squawking about the FBI's search of William Jefferson's (D-La.) office as unconstitutional. If he ain't dirty, his friends are.

To Lee, re: Original change... (Below threshold)
Ali:

To Lee, re: Original change

It doesn't matter. It calls for a correction and update, not a typeover at the same URL... there's no explanation for that.

fmragtops:Truze... (Below threshold)
Truzenzuzex:

fmragtops:

Truzenzuzex : Democrat partisans didn't change the subject, Dennis Hastert changed the subject when he started squawking about the FBI's search of William Jefferson's (D-La.) office as unconstitutional. If he ain't dirty, his friends are.

And you know Hastert is dirty "or his friends are" how? Silly me, for a second there I thought you had a real point.

Hastert is a fool, but he may be an honest fool. On the other hand, he may not, but his defense of Jefferson's "constitutional right" not to have his office searched doesn't speak to his ethics, but to his intelligence. The bipartisan uprising led by Hastert was being covered as a curious adjunct to the main Jefferson story.

But in the context of a mysterious anonymous "senior" FBI source reporting (apparently falsely) that Hastert is under invistigation, his defense of "congressional privileges" now begins to take on a much more sinister tone. Tone-deaf fool that Hastert is, I can't say he doesn't deserve it. He is morphing into Gingrich right before our eyes.

Ok...am I missing something... (Below threshold)
Hermie:

Ok...am I missing something here?

The story goes that:

"Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government."

How could one come to the conclusion that Hastert was part of the Abramoff bribery scandal, if he was on the opposite side of Abramoff's clients, and his letter writing was in support of the tribe that Abramoff was fighting against?

Oops...now that I read it m... (Below threshold)
hermie:

Oops...now that I read it more than once, I sheepishly understand what was meant.

Congrats Hermie - discernin... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Congrats Hermie - discerning the facts from blog posts like this isn't easy. Conservative bloggers take any story that sheds a poor light on the Republicans and immediatlely look for a spin angle which will divert the attention away from the facts surrounding the Republican wrong doers...

An FBI investigation into bribery that now apparently includes Hastert, and the "story" on the conservo-blogs becomes "look at what ABC did".

Never mind the implication that yet another Congressman may have been caught with his fat hand in the cookie jar -- ignore that and look at the semantics of the report from the MSM! LOL!

I have no axe to grind with Hastert. I suspect he's guilty of the same kind of bribery and pandering as the rest of them (Republican and Democrats), but it appears as if the FBI may have wanted to rattle his chain a bit.

That's the real story - Lorie's report is just spin -- and the noise from conservatives parsing the words ABC used to report that fact is just a diversion put forth by a spin machine that is having to work overtime these days.

That's just a load of steam... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

That's just a load of steaming BS, Lee.

Fact: Brian Ross filed a story asserting that Hastert was being investigated by the FBI for being involved in accepting bribes. And his only support for this were (likely fictional) "anonymous" sources.

Both the FBI and Hastert challenged him and he went back, changed the story and claimed he was right all along, expecting dishonest Leftist hacks like yourself to joing him in pretending that the previous story didn't exist.

The Right is pissed off because there was nothing to the story. Brian Ross cannot even claim that it was "fake but accurate". Don't even try to claim that if this report had targetted Nancy Pelosi you wouldn't rending your garments and shrieking about Republican dirty tricks.

Go sell your equivocating h**sesh*t elsewhere.

Didn't Abramoff follow the ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Didn't Abramoff follow the same path of angry denial - isn't Jefferson doing the same thing now?

It's par for the course for crooks to scream that they are innocent, and maybe Hastert is innocent - all ABC is saying is that he's being investigated - not that he's guilty. Time will tell.

Why the feds wanted to rattle Hastert's chain is the real question.

Lee,Oh please ...<... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

Lee,

Oh please ...

Brian Ross files a story citing "anonymous sources" (by definition people of doubtful veracity) claiming that the FBI is investigating Denny Hastert.

The FBI categorically deny it.

And I'm supposed to give Brian Ross's sleazy support-free hit piece equal credibility? The same Brian Ross that dishonestly altered his report and then asks us to pretend that his altered report was what he wrote all along?

Personally, I think Brian Ross made it all up. It has a great deal more credibility than your cockamie theory that the FBI wanted to "rattle Hastert's chain."

Latest: Second statement fr... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

Latest: Second statement from the DOJ.

    Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty; "With regard to reports suggesting that the Speaker of the House is under investigation or 'in the mix,' as stated by ABC News, I reconfirm, as stated by the Department earlier this evening, that these reports are untrue."

The chickens are coming home to roost ... Hastert has decided to play hardball.

    We will take any and all actions necessary to rectify the harm ABC has caused and to hold those at ABC responsible for their conduct.

    Please advise regarding who will accept service of process to remedy this intentional falsehood.

    Very truly yours,
    J. Randolph Evans
    Stefan C. Passantino
    Counsel to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert

Looks like ABC is going to ... (Below threshold)

Looks like ABC is going to need to go back and change the story again so they can continue to "stand behind" it.

Oh, and don't bother postin... (Below threshold)

Oh, and don't bother posting a complaint on The Blotter website comments, they won't get posted.

Truzenzuzex: You avoided th... (Below threshold)

Truzenzuzex: You avoided the point is more like it. The person that shifted the focus of the Jefferson investigation was Hastert, not Democrats. Unless maybe you want to argue that it was Democrats that made him oppose the FBI's search. The minute he started claiming the FBI's search was unconstitutional most people started wondering what he had to hide.

Now, I don't completely discount your point that he's just stupid. Maybe that is so. But this is really, incredibly stupid. He's protecting something. What's he protecting?




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