Rather than scatter posts all over the place, I’ll open this thread so that Bryan, Ian, and I can add to it as developments warrant. Check back frequently. There’s no telling who’s head will have rolled or which kid’s pants we’ll have learned Foley was trying to take off by this time tomorrow.
I’ll get the ball rolling with yet another installment in the Prowler’s popular series of fake-sounding, too-good-to-be-true quotes from “Democratic aides”:
“We’re getting into very dangerous territory, and I’ve warned my colleagues to be careful.” That’s what a Democrat leadership aide was saying on Wednesday, as word circulated about David Corn’s blog posting that revealed that a list of gay Republicans congressional staffers was circulating through emails…
“If that list is made public, all of the political gains we’ve made in the past 96 hours get flushed down the toilet,” says the leadership aide.
Also, a mini-bombshell from the Hill: they claim to have confirmed with the person who gave the e-mails to the media that the page he got them from is a Republican. That would jibe with what we’ve learned tonight about the page from the Drudge Report, but I can’t say more lest I find myself part of the dread “conservative outing mob.” In any case, the page’s political affiliation isn’t important; it’s the middleman who’s key. Which way does he lean politically? And how long were the e-mails in his possession? The Hill’s oddly coy on that subject.
Lots of updates coming eventually, probably!
Update: And here we go! Actually, just a footnote to the Hill article: it sounds like the page who’s the target of the “conservative outing mob” isn’t the one the Hill is talking about. They’re talking about the page (I think) who worked for Rodney Alexander and got the creepy but not overtly sexual “send me a picture of you” e-mail that started this shinolastorm last Thursday. The middleman who spoke to the Hill claims to have shared that e-mail with media outlets in July, but no one published it. Until, that is, ABC got wind of the e-mails posted last week on StopSexPredators.com.
Which brings us back to the question: who’s behind SSP?
Update: A clever attempt to answer that question. Anyone know anyone in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Update: Supposedly Hastert has said he’ll resign if it’ll help the GOP retain control of the House in November.
Update: CNN heard back from the unnamed proprietor of StopSexPredators:
“My plans are to remain anonymous for the foreseeable future,” the Web site’s owner wrote in an e-mail. “I’ve been getting threats from folks and will no longer allow the posting of comments on the website. I can’t believe the anger out there for exposing a hypocritical sex predator.”
Update: Jonah makes the case for lightening up. Momentarily.
Update: Assassination prankster Randi Rhodes welcomes nutroots sex-scandal fave Jeff Gannon to her show this afternoon at 5:30.
Update: Uh oh: “With midterm elections less than five weeks away, the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that about half of likely voters say recent disclosures of corruption and scandal in Congress will be very or extremely important when they cast their vote next month.”
Update: Just posted at the Blotter: ABC non-apologizes for its inadvertent outing of the page whose name I’m not allowed to mention.
Update: Hastert’s holding a presser at 1. Video will be right here.
Update: Here’s a shocker. When Democratic Congressman Mel Reynolds got caught having sex with a 16-year-old, ABC’s coverage was rather less diligent.
Update: Louis Freeh’s going to lead the probe into the page program. Meanwhile, Gateway Pundit says Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel have refused to take polygraphs. I’m not sure about the source on that, though.
Update: Not sure what it means to say that Hastert will “accept responsibility,” but the fact that this news conference has been delayed a full hour suggests that things are in flux.
Update: CBS, as impartial as ever.
Update: I’m cutting video of Hastert now, but Drudge has the big news. I don’t believe it at all but let’s see what the evidence is.
Update: Here’s the Drudge scoop:
According to one Oklahoma source who knows the former page very well, Edmund, a conservative Republican, goaded Foley to type embarrassing comments that were then shared with a small group of young Hill politicos. The prank went awry when the saved IM sessions got into the hands of political operatives favorable to Democrats. This source, an ally of Edmund, also adamantly reports that the former page is not a homosexual. The prank scenario was confirmed by a second associate of Edmund.
The only real scoop is that Democrats were involved. The fact that it was a “prank” — if it was a prank, which I seriously doubt — doesn’t absolve Foley from his predatory intent.
An e-mailer makes a fair point, though: if it was a prank, that might explain why Edmund has (allegedly) hired a criminal defense lawyer.
Update: Fast-moving developments developing fast: Freeh’s appointment blocked by Dems; the House Ethics Committee issues almost four dozen subpoenas and refuses to say if Hastert is the recipient of any of them; and finally here’s the (heavily edited) video of the press conference.
Update: Did Betsy Newmark predict the Drudge scoop?
Update: Good lord. The internal polling is horrendous:
House Republican candidates will suffer massive losses if House Speaker Dennis Hastert remains speaker until Election Day, according to internal polling data from a prominent GOP pollster, FOX News has learned.
“The data suggests Americans have bailed on the speaker,” a Republican source briefed on the polling data told FOX News. “And the difference could be between a 20-seat loss and 50-seat loss.”
Please note: the margin of control is 15 seats.
Update: Rick Moran floats a theory: Could Kirk Fordham, who resigned yesterday as Tom Reynolds’s chief of staff, be the source of the e-mails in the Hill article? Moran notes that Fordham himself was outed, sort of, two years ago (which jibes with my suspicions yesterday that he might be mentioned on David Corn’s list of closeted Republicans).
Update: A mini-bombshell from Bob Novak: “The fact is, Foley was reluctant to run for re-election because of pressure over his homosexuality. He was reportedly considering two private-sector jobs already, after the White House had panned him as a Florida Senate candidate, reasoning that he could not win statewide. But National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) talked a reluctant Foley into staying. Naturally, Reynolds, as the campaign chairman, wants all incumbents to stay in the House and to minimize open seats.”
Update: Better politics through technology!
Update: And the avalanche keeps rolling: ABC claims three new pages have come forward about having been propositioned by Foley. Ugliest detail:
The former page also said Foley told him that if he happened to be in Washington, D.C., he could stay at Foley’s home if he “would engage in oral sex” with Foley.
ABC quotes one of the three as saying, “This was no prank.”
Update: More poll woes from Time magazine:
Two-thirds of Americans aware of the congressional-page sex scandal believe Republican leaders tried to cover it up — and one quarter of them say the affair makes them less likely to vote for G.O.P. candidates in their districts come November. Those are among the findings of a new TIME poll conducted this week among 1,002 randomly-selected voting-age Americans.
I’m going on record with my prediction: Hastert steps down before the close of business tomorrow.
Update: Jeff Gannon cancelled his appearance on Randi Rhodes’s radio show this afternoon due to the “insulting” way they were promoting it. Not sure what that means, but it’s perfectly in character for Rhodes.
Update: The kiss of death.
Update: And yet another mini-bombshell: is the largest gay rights organization in America aiding and abetting gay McCarthyism?
Update: Bob Owens predicts the GOP will hold the House even if Hastert stays on. Why? Because you can’t beat something with nothing.