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The Specter scenario: Reality?

We were dismissive when he heard the speculation from Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, that the story of Larry Craig and the Senate may not be done as soon we’d think. He focused on a word in Craig’s resignation speech at Boise last weekend, that he “intended” to resign from the office at the end of the month.

On television Sunday, Specter said “I’d like to see Larry Craig go back to court, seek to withdraw his guilty plea and fight the case.” And he speculated that Craig’s “intent” to resign might be overturned by month’s end.

Which seemed pretty unlikely . . . except that this evening, Craig’s Senate spokesman Sidney Smith was quoted by the Associated Press saying this: “It’s not such a foregone conclusion anymore, that the only thing he could do was resign . . . We’re still preparing as if Senator Craig will resign September 30, but the outcome of the legal case in Minnesota and the ethics investigation will have an impact on whether we’re able to stay in the fight—and stay in the Senate.” Separately, he is quoted as saying, “he is fighting these charges and should he be cleared before then, he may, and I emphasize may, not resign.” Some reports have it that his new legal counsel has advised him not to leave the Senate before getting the legal issues resolved – if then.

Dennis Mansfield, the conservative Boise activist, evidently caught some of this too. From his blog, posted today:

Well, friends, I said so from the start on Saturday to many of you – Larry Craig chooses his words carefully. Always has.

To many of you who asked me what it was like to actually be at the Boise Depot Press Conference – beamed nationally by almost every station/network – there was the one single thing that stood out to me.

The pregnant pause after the word “intend….to resign” – and without a sound it seemed to say everything.

NOW – From national press, (AP, MSNBC, etc) word is out that Mr. Craig’s new counselors may well be positioning a full blown fire-fight in the Senate Ethics Committee to keep him in office. A personal and political friend of mine on Saturday, at Congressman Bill Sali’s annual Labor Day picnic, said it this way: “I’d advise Senator Craig to tell those SOBs in the Senate to force the Ethics Committee THIS WEEK – I’d take their hypocrisy and shove it …”(well, anyway, you get my friend’s rather descriptive picture).

If this continues to develop, watch for things to get real fascinating, real quick. Meantime, if you didn’t earlier, you might check out this post on Craig’s various options, explored or not.

AND MORE A good rundown of this evening’s developments – a clutch of them – is easily gotten on Talking Points Memo, including the report of an intriguing recorded phone message. And a take from an Oregon defense attorney that “withdrawing a plea on a misdemeanor is far from impossible. The primary factor in Craig’s case is that he didn’t have a lawyer.”

LATER/ALTERNATIVE While that legal theory could be iffy, there’s another Craig’s lawyers may pull out. Via Huckleberries Online, a report just up from World Net Daily pointing out that members of Congress traveling to or from a session of Congress (as Craig certainly was when he was in Minneapolis – he would appear on the Senate floor a few hours later the same day) are immune from arrest. Article I Section 6 says, in part, that members of Congress “shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same . . .”

Or does disorderly conduct constitute a “break of the peace”? . . .

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One Comment

  1. msolomon msolomon September 5, 2007

    As I understand the process, even if Craig somehow convinces a court to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea, he is then faced with the original charges of violation of privacy (peeping) and lewd conduct. Assuming he would then plead not guilty, a court trial would take place unless the charges were dropped entirely. We could look forward to months of Craig’s being distracted from his Senate responsibilities.

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