As former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert appears in a federal court today in Illinois over charges that he evaded financial reporting requirements on bank withdrawals, there is still a sense of shock on Capitol Hill about the other part of this story, that Hastert tried to cover up sexual misconduct from his time as a high school wrestling coach.
“I had never heard of any of it,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Hastert’s home state of Illinois.
“I was stunned, I’m still stunned,” Durbin said to reporters on Capitol Hill.
Republicans who served with Hastert also have had little to add.
“I was as shocked and dismayed by the reports that I read as anyone else around here,” said Speaker John Boehner.
That doesn’t mean no one knew anything; as many of my colleagues here in the Press Gallery have been trying hard in recent days to find evidence that the Hastert story was making the rounds back when the Illinois Republican was Speaker.
That said – there were rumors out there about Hastert; a woman who spoke out last week to say her brother had been sexually abused by Hastert years ago, she had approached some major news organizations with that story in 2006.
“I can say with absolute certainty there is sooo much more to this story,” Jolene Burdge wrote on social media after the Hastert indictment was issued in late May.
Her brother, who died of AIDS in 1995, was not “Individual A” in the Hastert indictment.
At this point, reports have not established the identity of “Individual A” and exactly how that person came to an agreement with Hastert to be paid $3.5 million.
We’ll see if his court appearance on Tuesday sheds any more light on this story.