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.
a sitting house speaker being investigated by the fbi is a huge deal. (especially considering the recent raid on william jefferson's office.) this all hinges on hastert's relation to jack abramoff: hastert took more money from abramoff and his clients than anyone else.
but then a funny thing happened. the DoJ made a statement that hastert is "not under investigation", prompting a statement from hastert's office demanding a retraction.
but abc is standing by its story. from a post on the abc blog:
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.
"You guys wrote the story very carefully but they are not reading it very carefully," a senior official said.
ABC's law enforcement sources said the Justice Department denial was meant only to deny that Hastert was a formal "target" or "subject" of the investigation.
"Whether they like it or not, members of Congress, including Hastert, are under investigation," one federal official said tonight.
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.
if you want a glimpse of the right-wing response to the story, check out the comments on the abc post... all i got was a glimpse, as after i noticed that the very first comment raises the specter of dan rather, my eyes rolled back deep into my head.¶