Video: Pelosi playing defense on Massa?

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    >> chuck was on urban dictionary earlier.

    >> excuse me.

    >> i want my innocence back.

    >> i'm putting a kibosh on all of this. stop. stop. stop.

    >> let's talk about the importance of this massa story. "the washington post " reporting that nancy pelosi may have known about this basket in october. the more things change , the more they stay the same. how much does this sound like the mark foley story in the summer of 2006 .

    >> with foley , they knew a month earlier than they said they did what did she know at the time? was she told by a staffer, hey, i've been -- i've had suspicions, didn't know what to to. i'm still sort of not sure and now i'm telling you, or was it something more definitive? that's what we don't know. as how much of the details at that time did speaker pe eer pelosi know? the other thing that didn't surface in the foley situation, is there physical evidence like text messages that massa speculated might be out there, or with foley it was those ims. will we see those pop up? that makes a timeline even easier to put together. that i think all of this right now is still sort of feeling like congressional aides doing a little cia with themselves a little bit.

    >> and you heard nance ooy pelosi last night on " charlie rose " saying he was sick. well, if he did harass staff members, he was sick. it sounds like she may be starting her own defense as to why she didn't act more quickly against a guy that was abusing staff members.

    >> the only excuse massa hasn't come up with. you're almost waiting for him to say i was on some medication and it made me do weird things. you are almost waiting for him th that to be his excuse.

    >> an historic concern, getting 216 votes because of deaths and retirements in the house. how far away is she from it?

    >> closer today than they were last night. rahm emanuel spent the dinner time hours in the speaker's office with the house democratic leadership. and i was told by folks in that meeting, they checked a lot of boxes, but one big one they haven't hit on yet is abortion. and that is still tying up approximately a dozen votes. maybe fewer, but you're looking at a handful of votes. the difference between getting the 216 and not getting them.

    >> but the white house thinks they'll get the 216?

    >> they think they've got it house leadership still looking for a procedural way. they want to pass the senate bill and have it become law without the fixes. so there is still a procedural way, so they will pass the senate bill so it actually will become law until the senate does their thing. you can understand why the house democrats want that. they don't want to be on record until putting into law the bill and ben nelson deal.

    >> chuck, before we leave, let's talk about israel . what is the very latest? is the white house angry with israel this morning for what they did yesterday?

    >> well, angry -- they are a little angry, but at the same time, what they are really upset about at israel is the fact that they thought they had really go ahead news to announce yesterday. george mitchell got egypt to announce indirect talks that they would help with the shuttle d diplomacy, there was going to be a schedule of talks indirect. not exactly, you know, face to face , but still some progress. that's what they wanted to announce when vice president biden was over there. oh, we're sorry. the timing is bad. they didn't apologize for doing it. they just apologized for the timing, which is, you know -- it was -- it's sort of an extra. to me, that was an extra slap in the face .

    >> oh, boy.

    >> all right, chuck. thank you very much. you can catch chuck todd on msnbc.

    >> by the way, i'm a scuba diver .

    >> that's great, chuck. i don't even know what that is. i don't know if i'm a scuba diver . now i'm afraid.

    >> you just told us more than we needed to know. we'll see you on "the daily rundown." madeleine albright on this morning. send her our best. and still to come,

updated 3/11/2010 4:35:17 PM ET 2010-03-11T21:35:17

House Democrats on Thursday stopped a Republican bid to force an investigation of Democratic leaders aimed at determining whether they covered up sexual harassment allegations against ex-Rep. Eric Massa.

Even in failure, Republicans planted questions about when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi learned about allegations from Massa's employees that he sexually harassed male staff members. The freshman New York Democrat resigned Monday amid a slew of conflicting statements in which he confirmed and denied that he groped staff members and argued that none of the contact was sexual.

By trying to make Democratic leaders rather than Massa the investigative subjects, Republicans attempted to turn the tables on the party that used ethical misconduct to win control of the House in 2006.

Republicans were hurt in that campaign by revelations that GOP leaders took no action after learning that then-Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., sent sexually suggestive messages to former male pages.

In a resolution demanding an investigation with a June 30 deadline, House Republican leader John Boehner pointed to a meeting last October between Massa's top aide and a Pelosi staff member.

Pelosi said in a March 4 news conference, after news stories appeared about Massa's conduct, that she only learned of the harassment allegations the previous day.

"I asked my staff, I said, 'Have there been any rumors about any of this before?' There had been a rumor, but just that, no formal notification to our office," she said.

Pelosi said her staff did not report the rumor to her, "because, you know what? This is rumor city. Every single day there are rumors. I have a job to do and not to be the receiver of rumors."

Pelosi's spokesman, Brendan Daly, said there were no harassment allegations discussed in the October meeting between the Massa and Pelosi staff members.

The Massa aide brought along a news article from a paper in Massa's district that mentioned the congressman lived with five of his employees in a Washington townhouse. The Massa aide informed the speaker's office that staff members asked their boss to move out, Daly said, and they objected to inappropriate language by the congressman.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office said a Massa aide went to the leader's staff in February with the allegations. Hoyer told one of his own aides to inform the Massa staffer that either Massa — or someone on Massa's staff — needed to go to ethics committee within 48 hours. Hoyer said he would report it if Massa or his staff did not. The Massa staffer reported the allegations.

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Daly added, "In February, when serious allegations against Mr. Massa were brought to the attention of leader Hoyer and a member of our staff for the first time, the staff concurred that an ethics investigation was the proper course of action."

The Republican maneuver to force an investigation was part of an all-out GOP effort to highlight Democratic ethical and legal problems in advance of the fall campaign.

Rep. Charles Rangel, a 20-term Democrat, had to step aside as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee after the ethics committee found he violated gift rules by accepting corporate money to attend two Caribbean conferences.

Rangel remains under investigation, prolonging the political agony for Democrats. The committee is investigating whether he used his official position to raise money for a college center named after him, and is looking into his belated reporting of hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets.

The resolution introduced by Boehner would have given the ethics committee no choice about investigating what Democratic leaders knew about Massa. Instead, the House voted 402-1 to allow the ethics committee to decide its next step.

The committee has five members from each party, but a tie vote would kill any proposal to investigate Democratic leaders.

The committee ended its investigation of Massa on Wednesday because his resignation took his case out the committee's jurisdiction.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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