Sheesh, between Kenny Boy and Libby and Cheney and Rove and Novak, I totally lost track of Denny Hastert. And it appears DOJ may have done so too.
Let's review, shall we? Yesterday, ABC News came out with the scoop that Denny's under investigation in the Abramoff Scandal.
Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.
Denny managed to take time away from protecting
the Congressional desk drawer where he hides all his bribery receipts separation of the powers to angrily deny that he had any bribery receipts. DOJ helpfully issued a statement seemingly supporting the case.
Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department.
At which point ABC reiterated its claim.
Despite a flat denial from the Department of Justice, federal law enforcement sources tonight said ABC News accurately reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is "in the mix" in the FBI investigation of corruption in Congress.
Then Denny threatened to sue.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert might sue ABC News for libel and defamation for a news report that said he was "in the mix" in a corruption investigation, according to a letter sent by Hastert's lawyer on Thursday.
DOJ issued another statement helpful to Denny.
Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, "With regard to reports suggesting that the Speaker of the House is under investigation or 'in the mix,' as stated by ABC News, I reconfirm, as stated by the Department earlier this evening, that these reports are untrue."
Now before I get into the question of whether someone is protecting Denny, let me raise two more points. Brian Ross, the primary reporter on these stories, had another big scoop recently (along with Richard Esposito, who contributed to all the Denny stories). You might remember this one. It went like this:
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.
"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.
ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.
I guess I've got my answer to the question, "Why ABC."
Now check out this cryptic bit from the most recent ABC update:
You guys wrote the story very carefully but they are not reading it very carefully,
Is anyone else having a Deep Throat tingle? Because I sure am. So let me review what we know.
A federal law enforcement officer, who may or may not be the same guy who met in person with Ross to tell him to get a new cell phone because his phone records were being tracked, tells Ross that Abramoff has squealed about the bribe Denny took to write a letter opposing an Indian casino that would have competed with one of Abramoff's client's casinos. Ross reports that. DOJ denies Denny's a target. Ross reiterates his story. DOJ denies Denny's "in the mix" (must be a former wrestling coach term for "pigs at the trough").
If my logic serves me and the sources are all telling the truth, it would suggest federal investigators know about the bribe Denny took, but they're not investigating it. Is that what this friendly federal law enforcement officer is trying to tell us? Because, like I said, I'm having a Deep Throat tingle.