Dennis Hastert Reaches a Plea Deal

by Kerry Eleveld –

Federal officials indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert for lying to the FBI and evading taxes as he sought to pay off the subject to "cover up past misconduct." The indictment was unsealed in the District Court of Northern Illinois on Thursday, May 28, 2015. The Justice Department alleges that Hastert made large withdrawals after he agreed to pay an unnamed subject $3.5 million.

Dennis Hastert—the guy the GOP coalesced around the last time the Republicans couldn’t find a Speaker of the House—has reportedly reached a plea deal with the government over his attempt to evade banking laws and then hide it from federal officials. It’s unclear exactly which charges Hastert will plead guilty to, but he had illegally structured $1.7 million in banking withdrawals to use as hush money for an ugly history of alleged sexual misconduct with a boy (or boys) he coached on a high school wrestling team. The deal, however, is likely to help keep those details under wraps. Julie Bosman reports:

A federal prosecutor told the court that the government expected a written plea agreement to be given to the judge on Monday. It has asked for a hearing on Oct. 28, at which Mr. Hastert is expected to change his plea to guilty from not guilty.
It was unclear what charges that Mr. Hastert would plead guilty to and what the sentence may be. Mr. Hastert did not appear in court. […]The indictment said the withdrawals were used to “compensate for and conceal” earlier “misconduct” against a person identified only as “Individual A.”

That individual remains unnamed.

Hastert holds the distinction of being the longest-serving GOP Speaker of the House. When the illegal withdrawals came to light earlier this year, it was widely thought that few, if any, people had suspicions about his alleged misdeeds. But Josh Gerstein recently reported otherwise.

In interviews with numerous Hastert associates, POLITICO found that at least some of Hastert’s allies were aware of rumors emanating from Yorkville High School as Hastert began his political career after many years as a popular teacher and coach, and no one apparently took action to address them. The findings shed new light on what was known about Hastert’s behavior long before a May 28 indictment.

As we undergo yet another episode of GOP incompetence that has left the nation reeling, it’s a fascinating moment to have Hastert headlines swirling around again. No more Hasterts, please.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos