Former House speaker Dennis Hastert's indictment on charges that he broke bank laws by withdrawing large sums of money and then lied about it to federal officials has roiled the political world, with the reverberations from the news just now starting to be truly felt in the nation's capital.
It's a complicated case -- and a very fluid story. With that in mind, here's what we know -- and what we don't -- about what Hastert (R-Ill.) allegedly did, according to the seven-page indictment released Thursday.
What We Know
* In 2010, Hastert agreed to give an unnamed person $3.5 million "to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A."
* The "prior misconduct" occurred before Hastert entered politics in 1981. (He was elected to the Illinois state House in the election of 1980.) "Individual A" is from Yorkville, a city very close to Hastert's home town of Plano -- a far western suburb of Chicago. Hastert worked as a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville from 1965 to 1981.
* Between 2010 and 2015, Hastert took out more than $1.7 million in cash from a variety of bank accounts to make good on this promised payment. Federal prosecutors allege that roughly half of that money was illegally withdrawn.
* The law Hastert allegedly broke dictates that any cash withdrawal over $10,000 be accompanied by a Currency Transaction Report filed by the bank to the federal government. "The federal law requiring these reports was passed to safeguard the financial industry from threats posed by money laundering and other financial crime," according to the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN). "To comply with this law, financial institutions must obtain personal identification information about the individual conducting the transaction such as a Social Security number as well as a driver’s license or other government issued document. This requirement applies whether the individual conducting the transaction has an account relationship with the institution or not." These regulations grew out of the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, which is formally known as the "Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970."
* The federal investigation into Hastert's withdrawal practice began in 2013 due to concerns that Hastert was "structuring" withdrawals to avoid the reporting requirements. Structuring, which is also called "smurfing," is a purposeful attempt to break up large cash withdrawals to keep them from drawing scrutiny. It's a common practice in money laundering and gambling. Between June 2010 and April 2012, Hastert took $50,000 out of his bank accounts on 15 different occasions. When questioned about those practices by bank officials, Hastert began taking out less than $10,000 at a time to avoid detection, a classic case of structuring or smurfing, if true.
* When confronted about his withdrawals by federal officials in late 2014, Hastert allegedly lied -- insisting that he was keeping the cash for himself. Hastert said that he "did not feel safe with the banking system," adding: “Yeah ... I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing." Lying to federal officials is, obviously, a crime.
* Hastert resigned Thursday from Dickstein Shapiro, the lobbying shop where he had worked since leaving Congress. Neither he nor his attorneys have offered any public comment about the indictment since it came down on Thursday.
What We Don't Know
* The identity of "Individual A." And according to this piece by WaPo's Mike DeBonis, Mark Berman and Paul Kane, we might never find it out. "Because of the nature of the federal charges against Hastert, in which prosecutors must prove only that he violated banking laws and lied to federal investigators, Individual A may never have to be identified in that case, a U.S. official said," the trio wrote. BuzzFeed reported Friday morning that Hastert's lawyers asked the U.S. attorney bringing the case to withhold the name of Individual A as well as a "much more explicit indictment of Hastert." He complied.
* Does Individual A come forward? While he or she may never be revealed in the course of the legal proceedings, it's quite possible that the person will feel compelled to tell his/her side of the story amid the massive national attention the story is getting.
* Why did Hastert agree to pay $3.5 million in what looks like, for all intents and purposes, hush money. The details of the "prior misconduct" are not provided in the indictment. An unnamed federal law enforcement official told the Post Friday afternoon that Hastert was paying the money to cover up an incident of sexual molestation of a male victim.
Update: The Yorkville school district just released a statement saying it was never confronted with any allegations against Hastert:
Yorkville Community Unit School District #115 employed Mr. Dennis Hastert from 1965-1981. The District was first made aware of any concerns regarding
Mr. Hastert when the federal indictment was released on May 28, 2015.
Yorkville Community Unit School District #115 has no knowledge of Mr. Hastert’s alleged misconduct, nor has any individual contacted the District to report any such misconduct. If requested to do so, the District plans to cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into this matter.
* When Hastert will be arraigned on the charges -- and what he will plead. There's no date set yet for Hastert's arraignment at the U.S. District Court in downtown Chicago, but when it comes he will have to enter a plea. His lack of comment and the general silence from his allies makes it impossible to know where his mind is at on it, of course. Reached late Thursday, one longtime friend expressed stunned amazement at the charges.