Despite Pressure, Hastert Won't Resign

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 3, 2006; 6:51 PM

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert brushed aside resignation talk Tuesday, even as the Republicans' No. 2 House leader contradicted him in the page scandal. President Bush gave Hastert a vote of confidence as the party struggled to contain pre-election fallout.

Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said he wouldn't resign as speaker, the top official in Congress and second in the line of succession to the presidency, in the controversy over Rep. Mark Foley's salacious computer exchanges with former pages. Foley resigned last Friday.

"I'm not going to do that," Hastert said when asked by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh whether he would resign.

Hastert sought to blame Democrats for leaking sexually explicit computer instant messages between Foley and former pages from 2003.

"We have a story to tell, and the Democrats have _ in my view have _ put this thing forward to try to block us from telling the story. They're trying to put us on defense," Hastert said.

"It's absolutely not true," said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at an event in Sunrise, Florida. Pelosi said it was too early to call for Hastert's resignation pending an Ethics Committee investigation.

ABC News, which first reported the exchanges, says they were provided to it by former pages. It said its initial report last Thursday about e-mails between Foley and a Louisiana teenager prompted other former pages to come forward with more sexually graphic electronic messages.

ABC News said Tuesday it had obtained additional instant messages.

"Can I have a good kiss goodnight," Foley was said to have messaged in one. A boy responded with cyber symbols and "kiss)."

In another message, Foley invited the teenager to his Capitol Hill town house "for a few drinks" even though he knew the boy was under the legal drinking age. "we may need to drink at my house so we dont get busted," Foley messaged.

Foley's attorney, David Roth, said at a news conference in West Palm Beach, Fla., that he had no reason to believe that Foley "ever had teenage boys at his house to have alcohol."

Roth said Foley, 52, had himself been molested between the ages of 13 and 15 by a clergyman but added that Foley had never had sexual contact with a minor. He said Foley, who had kept his sexual orientation private, wanted people now to know that he is gay.

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