Video: Vow to ax staff

updated 10/10/2006 7:56:50 PM ET 2006-10-10T23:56:50

House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Tuesday he'll dismiss anyone on his staff found to have covered up concerns about ex-Rep. Mark Foley's approaches to former pages.

Hastert said he huddled with his staff members last week and he believes they acted appropriately in handling information on Foley's conduct. But he also issued them a stern warning: "If they did cover something up, then they should not continue to have their jobs."

The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation and the House ethics committee is investigating any potential violations of standards of conduct.

Timeline pushed back
Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Kolbe said Tuesday he passed along a complaint about inappropriate e-mails from Foley to Foley's office and the clerk of the House but took no further action when learning of the incident.

A former page sponsored by Kolbe contacted the Arizona Republican's office in 2000 or 2001, well before House leaders say they first learned of inappropriate messages sent by Foley.

"Some time after leaving the Page program, an individual I had appointed as a Page contacted my office to say he had received e-mails from Rep. Foley that made him uncomfortable," Kolbe said in a statement. "I was not shown the content of the messages and was not told they were sexually explicit. It was my recommendation that this complaint be passed along to Rep. Foley's office and the clerk who supervised the Page program. This was done promptly."

Asked about Kolbe's statement, Hastert told reporters in Aurora, Ill.: "I don't know anything more about it. If there's something that was of a nature that should have been reported or brought forward, then he should have done that."

Speaker's investigation
Hastert said he thought his staff handled the situation fairly well, but "in 20/20 hindsight, probably you could do everything a little bit better."

"But if there is a problem, if there was a cover up, then we should find that out through the investigation process. They'll be under oath and we'll find out. If they did cover something up, then they should not continue to have their jobs. But I didn't think anybody at any time in my office did anything wrong."

Hastert confirmed reports from last week that he initially had suggested having former FBI Director Louis Freeh head up a Capitol Hill inquiry on the page program, but that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi objected.

Page’s ID disclosed
In Oklahoma City, former congressional page who may have received suggestive electronic messages from Foley was meeting with federal officials Tuesday.

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Attorney Stephen Jones and ex-page Jordan Edmund entered the U.S. attorneys office in midmorning.

Edmund's connection to Foley became public after ABC News inadvertently published the computer screen name of an ex-congressional page who allegedly received online instant messages from the ex-congressman.

That session was among a host of developments in the unfolding scandal surrounding the 52-year-old Foley's relationship with teenagers, called pages, appointed to run errands for lawmakers while Congress is in session.

Ethics and elections
Meanwhile, lawmakers are responding to the ethics committee's request that they survey aides and former House pages to find out if any of them had knowledge of Foley's inappropriate conduct toward male pages.

These developments continued to cloud Republicans' prospects for retaining their congressional majority.

A CBS News-New York Times poll released Monday found that four in five said GOP leaders were more concerned with politics than with the well-being of the congressional pages. Nearly half of those polled, 46 percent, said Hastert should step down over his handling of the Foley matter, while 26 percent said Hastert should remain in his post.

The network quickly removed the screen name, but not before an Oklahoma-based blogger used the information to identify the former page.

Foley has acknowledged through his attorney that he is gay but has denied having any sexual contact with minors.

Edmund, a Californian, has been living in Oklahoma City and working as a deputy campaign manager for the gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., who is challenging incumbent Democrat Brad Henry. Edmund was a U.S. House page in 2001 and 2002.

Jones said last week that Edmund was willing to talk to the FBI and the ethics panel. He also said Edmund "was a minor when the alleged events described in the media occurred."

Jones said there was "no physical involvement between" Edmund and Foley. The attorney also said the two were never together privately.

Where the meeting will take place wasn't disclosed.

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