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House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier on the resignation of Mark Foley

Monday, October 2, 2006

HH: Joined by Congressman David Dreier, chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. And Congressman, we’ve got a lot to talk about the week that ended. But first, let’s get right to Mark Foley, because you guys are getting rolled by a compliant mainstream media doing the bidding of some obviously ill-intentioned bloggers and Democrats. Did you or the Speaker or the majority leader know about these IM’s until Friday?

DD: Absolutely not. I will tell you, we are all horrified and outraged. Both of my nieces were pages in the page program. And this kind of behavior, preying on our youth, is something that is absolutely beyond the pale. We’ve seen NBC’s Dateline program covering this kind of thing, and it’s a sad but tragic fact of life, that the United States Congress seems to be reflective of all aspects of society. And I thank God this guy is out of Congress. And if he, in fact, was preying on our children, especially those for whom we have responsibility, he has got to face justice for that. We have the in loco parentis responsibility, as you know very well. The page program has existed since 1820. And there are so many people today in positions of leadership in our country who began by being part of the page program. And for this man to take advantage of the people who are in our charge, is outrageous. And I will tell you this. Denny Hastert, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is a former coach. He’s a wrestling coach from Illinois. And I will say this. If he had known about this, or anyone associated with him had known about this, he would have taken immediate action. In fact, in his news conference a few hours ago, he made it clear, Hugh, that he would have moved to immediately expel this man from the Congress.

HH: Now having…I knew that, but I have also watched a concentrated effort to ignore that fact over 48 hours, an attempt to confuse e-mails which were possibly inappropriate and a little bit weird…

DD: Right.

HH: …but nothing criminal, with these criminal IM’s…

DD: Exactly.

HH: And I just think it’s a purposeful attempt to slander Hastert, Boehner, and other Republicans.

DD: And all of us. Well, let me put it this way, Hugh. These took place three years ago. And interestingly enough, the election is five weeks from tomorrow. And we found out about these last Friday. And that’s when this man retired, resigned from the Congress. And Hastert made it very clear that this is just absolutely unacceptable. And I think that you raise a very fair question, and that is when we say we want a full FBI, Justice Department investigation, what was known and when was it known, we made it very clear what was known and when we found out about it. We found out about it on Friday. The so-called, as you said, overly friendly e-mails, which the parents didn’t want to have brought up, and e-mails that were in fact held by newspapers, held by at least two newspapers in this country, and they said well, there’s nothing here that’s questionable on that, and so they chose to do nothing with it, and now. But since that period of time, these other e-mails have existed. And I will tell you…

HH: IM’s. I would call them IM’s, Congressman…

DD: Yeah, IM’s.

HH: …because that’s what…people are referring to it in those two phrases. The IM’s are the disgusting things.

DD: Exactly. There’s a difference between the e-mails and the IM’s. You’re absolutely right. Thank you for pointing that out, because it is just beyond the pale. And again, as Hastert said, if he had known about these IM’s, he would have moved for the expulsion of Foley. And the moment that this was discovered, what happened? Foley resigned. And you know, there are former members of Congress who have served, having gone through this. It’s not a new issue with which we’ve had to contend.

HH: Yeah, you’ve had page sex scandals every five years, I would say, for the last thirty that I’ve been watching.

DD: Yeah, I mean, it’s been a long time. I mean, the most prominent one was in 1983, but I will tell you that…and I don’t even like to think about this. This is so disgusting and horrifying. And you know, the thing that I really do feel strongly about is first and foremost, the responsibility that we have for these kids, for these children, and second, the notion that someone would utilize this for political purposes…and in fact, if someone knew about this, and didn’t bring it forward? They are responsible for jeopardizing…

HH: Oh, you betcha. You betcha. Now Congressman, one last thing. I’ve been in your office at the House Rules Committee.

DD: Right.

HH: I know you love the House. I know you’re not alone in loving the House. What can the House do? You’ve got a bunch of these…You’ve got Jefferson, you’ve got a bunch of people who are in trouble. What can the House do?

DD: Well, I love it like you do, Hugh. I mean, the House of Representatives, and the United States Senate, the combined United States Congress, is known as the greatest deliberative body known to man. And this is one of the reasons that I have continued in my capacity to focus on institutional reform, almost every single day. And I’m going to continue to work on that.

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