Dennis Hastert: Former U.S. House Speaker Indicted By Feds

Former United States House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in apparent hush money to a longtime colleague, then lied to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks, federal prosecutors alleged Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

This case is quite interesting, but at the same time extremely complicated.

Hastert was accosted by someone in 2010 and allegedly agreed to pay this money to keep something quiet. According to the indictment, an unnamed longtime acquaintance of brought up “past misconduct” by the former speaker in the aforementioned 2010 conversation. Over the course of future conversations, Hastert agreed to commit the $3.5 million to the individual to “compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct.”

The two counts that Dennis Hastert faces are that he “did knowingly and willfully make materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” and “did knowingly and for the purpose of evading the reporting requirements of Title 31… structure and assist in structuring transactions… in United States currency in amounts under $10,000 in separate transactions on at least 106 occasions,” according to the Washington Post.

This case was pursued by the FBI and the IRS’s criminal investigation division.

Dennis Hastert served two decades in the House of Representatives, and was Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007. This is the longest tenure by a Republican speaker in history. He resigned after overseeing a catastrophic election for the Republicans in 2006. Hastert now leads the lobbying sector of Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a law firm based in Washington, D.C.

Rumors had been bouncing around over the past couple of weeks in the Capitol of the Speaker’s legal problems. In an interview with Politico last week, Hastert denied his issues with the IRS and denied his indictment.

“I read what you heard but that’s not correct,” Hastert told Politico when asked about problems with the IRS. “I’m not going to talk to you.”

When a Politico reporter told him in a phone interview that he was soon to be indicted, Hastert responded by saying, “Well, it’s not true.”

“I’m not speaking to you right now, thanks,” Hastert said, before hanging up the phone.

The indictment was based on an investigation that commenced in 2013, three years after the original meeting between Hastert and the unnamed individual.

Hastert chimed into a discussion last year regarding Eric Cantor’s resignation as House Majority Leader.

Past court rulings have showed the aggression by the federal authorities.

Judge Diana Sykes added “”On the present record … this case shows every sign of being an overzealous prosecution for a technical violation of a criminal regulatory statute—the kind of rigid and severe exercise of law-enforcement discretion that would make Inspector Javert proud.”

[Image Source: Chris Maddaloni / CQ Roll Call]

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