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Dennis Hastert’s trial began on Tuesday with a prosecutor trying to show why the former Speaker should be tried for “one count only” at a time. This was a bad strategy. (Dennis Hastert/Wikimedia Commons)
On Tuesday, a judge granted a request by prosecutors to proceed with an eight-count, $3 million, grand jury indictment of former House speaker Dennis Hastert as the alleged victims and other witnesses testified.
In doing so, the judge made clear that the judge didn’t intend to convict. Hastert has already admitted abusing his leadership position and accepting payments from an inmate who is now on trial in a federal trial in Illinois. He is also charged with lying to FBI agents about the case.
Hastert, 59, was forced out as head of the powerful and powerful at the end of the last Congress. He has pleaded not guilty to the 18 counts or at least one count of structuring — transferring money with the intent to avoid paying income taxes.
Prosecutors also are seeking to add to the indictment some charges in the separate cases against an unnamed Illinois schoolteacher and two other students who face charges relating to a “sex abuse scandal,” but have been freed pending trial. In another charge, Hastert is accused of “illegally communicating with a minor and providing her with alcohol and drugs.” Prosecutors have said some of the “sexual abuse” charge stems from sexual communication with the then teen accuser.
The alleged victims, including a woman who was then 16, have given testimony that is damning to the Republican.
“There was an extreme need for change and a total lack of accountability,” one alleged victim said in a sworn statement to the FBI, according to prosecutors. “That’s true in my case. I wanted change, but the Republican Congress refused.”
Hastert may be able to argue that the victims have misrepresented what they told the FBI. The judge could rule that the victims may not be able to bring any of these offenses to trial, but can say they have done nothing wrong.
The prosecution plan to use a motion before the judge to dismiss Hastert’s obstruction of justice and wire fraud charges in exchange for another set of convictions in the tax and sexual abuse allegations, which include two counts against a man who is now a minor, and two other charges against a 14-year-
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