GOP senators held a closed-door discussion on Sen. Craig Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican senators held what one participant called a "passionate" and "spirited" closed-door discussion Wednesday afternoon about how their leaders responded to the sex scandal involving their colleague Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, CNN has learned.
At least three senators complained their leaders "rushed to judgment" while others defended the leaders for quickly pulling their support from the disgraced senator, according to one Republican senator in the room and two GOP aides familiar with the meeting.
"We had to discuss it," the senator said.
Sen. Ted. Stevens of Alaska, whose home was recently raided as part of a federal corruption probe, stood up to say it's wrong to prejudge these matters.
He was joined by Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming, who also "wagged their finger" at the leadership, in the words of one of the aides. (Related: Craig may not resign)
But many more senators stood to defend the leaders, even greeting Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky with applause when he was introduced to discuss the topic at the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon in the Capitol.
Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback participated in the Republican debate on Wednesday.
(CNN) - Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback made clear at Wednesday night's New Hampshire debate that he disagrees with embattled Sen. Larry Craig's decision to reconsider his resignation.
"He's already pulled that trigger and he's decided what to do and he needs to stick with that," Brownback, a social conservative, said of his Idaho colleague.
"I think it is important that our party stand for family values," Brownback added. "We have got to rebuild the family. That's at the core of what we need to do. We shouldn't walk away from family values for fear of instances like this happening within our party."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Embattled Sen. Larry Craig was one of Bill Clinton's fiercest critics during the Senate’s 1999 impeachment trial, but the former president told CNN's Larry King Wednesday he takes no pleasure in the Idaho Republican's current situation and is "pulling" for Craig and his family.
"Honestly, didn't feel any great joy," Clinton said in an interview to air tonight at 9 p.m. ET. "When it was going on I knew that a lot of them were outed for hypocrisy before this."
Clinton added, "One of the things I did to get through that was to think hard about times in my past when I had judged people too harshly because they had a problem I didn't have. And I promised myself I'd never do that again, and I'm trying to keep that promise."
Craig was arrested in a restroom in June at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on suspicion of making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in the next stall. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August, but denies he was engaging in lewd behavior. Clinton offered a sympathetic perspective on the situation.
"I just know right now he and his family have got to be hurting and I think the rest of us should just be pulling for their personal lives and the politics of this will play itself out," he added.
Asked what he makes of people who criticize activities they do themselves, the former president said, " I think maybe it's subconscious self hatred, I don't know, maybe it’s a desire to avoid being caught, maybe its just a desire to deal with what they perceive to be the social and political realities they find themselves in."
In the wide ranging interview, Clinton also weighed in on why his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, has relatively high unfavorability ratings. (Related video: Watch Bill Clinton discuss his wife's presidential bid)
"It may be she's a strong woman and the first person in her gender ever to be considered a serious presidential possibility," Clinton said of his wife, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. "But most of it frankly is she took a lot of hits, along with me, beginning in 1992 when we threatened what the wash Republican right wing thought was its permanent hold on the White House.
"From the day I took the oath I never got a honeymoon," he added. "They tried to undermine the legitimacy of my presidency and they took after her too."
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
The last pages of the sign-in book at Sen. Larry Craig's Washington, D.C. office were empty as Congress reconvened on Tuesday
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As Congress returned from its summer recess Tuesday, journalists captured the last lingering moments of embattled former Sen. Larry Craig's term in office: the final page of his constituent sign-in book.
Constituents signed and dated the book during their numerous visits to the Republican senator’s D.C. office. The last entry is from August 31, the day before Craig announced his resignation. A staffer who declined to give his name then brought the book and table into the lawmaker's office area.
The fall-out from Craig’s sex scandal continued to reverberate in the Capitol as Senate leaders answered questions about their colleague's sudden downfall.
In his first comments about the situation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid strongly suggested Republican leaders judged the Idaho senator, who was arrested in a homosexual sex sting, more harshly than Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, whose phone number was recently linked to a heterosexual prostitution service.
"Everyone can see what they did with Vitter and what they did with Craig and draw their own conclusion," Reid told CNN when asked if GOP leaders had employed a "double standard."
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell disputed that notion, telling reporters there is a "substantial difference" between the Vitter matter which took place before Vitter was in the Senate and the Craig matter in which, "the legal case was, in effect, over. And the only question was what was the attitude going to be of the Senate with regard to the admission that had been made."
Sen. Larry Craig announced his intention to resign on Saturday.
BOISE, Idaho - Sen. Larry Craig is reconsidering his decision to resign after his arrest in a Minnesota airport sex sting and may still fight for his Senate seat, his spokesman told the Associated Press Tuesday evening.
"It's not such a foregone conclusion anymore, that the only thing he could do was resign," said Sidney Smith, Craig's spokesman in Idaho's capital.
"We're still preparing as if Senator Craig will resign Sept. 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," Smith added.
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter stood behind his friend Sen. Larry Craig Saturday as Craig announced his intent to resign
WASHINGTON (CNN) - So Sen. Larry Craig says he intends to step down from his office as of September 30. The Republican from Idaho says he’ll resign amid a controversy over his arrest in June in a men’s restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on suspicion of making sexual advances to an undercover police officer.
Craig said Saturday that he hopes “to allow a smooth and orderly transition of my local staff and for the person appointed to take my place.” The man who will appoint that successor, Idaho’s Republican governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter, stood behind Craig at the announcement in Boise.
Otter, a Republican, will almost certainly name a Republican to fill the seat, and that interim person will serve until next year’s election. That person will also most likely have a major edge in the 2008 contest.
And here’s why: Idaho is a very red state. As mentioned, the governor is a Republican, as is Craig and the other U.S. senator, Mike Crapo. Both U.S. representatives are Republican, and President Bush cruised to victory in Idaho in 2004, winning 69% of the vote.
Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho
(CNN)–The ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee says Idaho Senator Larry Craig should seek to withdraw his guilty plea, and possibly his resignation from the Senate.
"I'd like to see Larry Craig go back to court, seek to withdraw his guilty plea and fight the case," Senator Arlen Specter said on 'Fox News Sunday'. Drawing on his earlier experience as District Attorney of Philadelphia, Specter said, "On the evidence Senator Craig wouldn't be convicted of anything. And he's got his life on the line and 27 years in the House and Senate, and I'd like to see him fight the case because I think he could be vindicated."
Specter also said it was not too late for Craig to change the status of his resignation.
"He said he intends to resign. When you have a statement of intent to resign that intent could change," he said. "And if he could change the underlying sense of the case, feel of the case."
"Listen you can go to court and withdraw a guilty plea, of course disorderly conduct is not moral turpitude," Specter said. If he went to trial "he wouldn't be convicted of anything. And if he went to court, was acquitted, all of this hullabaloo would have no basis."
Speaking on the same show, Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Specter raised a good point. "From a legal point of view he makes a very good point," Leahy said. "Now from a political point of view I don't pretend to know what Idaho politics are or how they might be, but Senator Specter has laid out as strong a legal case as I've heard."
Craig announced his resignation from the Senate on Saturday effective September 30, following the disclosure of his arrest in June for disorderly conduct in a restroom at the Minneapolis airport.
- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.
(CNN)–Senator Larry Craig is hiring some big guns from the legal world, including Michael Vick's lawyer, to represent him in his upcoming legal proceedings.Craig said he has retained Vick's attorney, Billy Martin, to handle most of his legal affairs. He said he has retained Stan Brand, who represented Major League Baseball in connection with the congressional investigation into Major League Baseball’s steroid policies, to handle issues pertaining to an investigation by the Senate Ethics committee.
The comments came in a question and answer session with Craig that his office released following his announcement he would resign his Senate seat effective September 30.
Watch Sen. Craig's resignation speech
Craig says pending issues, and assuring an orderly transition were some of the reasons he will not step down immediately.
Questions for and Answers From U.S. Senator Larry Craig released by his office Saturday:
Q: Why September 30?
A: Thousands of Idahoans come to me every year for assistance in resolving issues with federal agencies, like obtaining passports, resolving Social Security or pension problems, and I want to make sure as many of these are resolved as possible. What can’t be resolved will be transferred to my successor in an orderly way. I want to make as smooth a transition as possible for Idaho.
Q: Will you return to Washington, D.C.? When?
A: That has not been determined.
Q: Will you continue to vote and attend hearings during this time?
A: See above.
Q: Who is your legal counsel?
A: Stan Brand with Brand Law Group has been retained to handle issues pertaining to the Senate Ethics Committee investigation. Billy Martin with Southerland, Asbil & Brennan has been retained to handle all other legal affairs.
Q: Have you filed papers in Minnesota to begin your legal defense?
A: You’ll have to speak with Mr. Martin or Mr. Brand on any questions pertaining to legal affairs.
Q: Have you spoken with Governor Otter about a replacement?
Q: Have you had any conversations with Lieutenant Governor Risch?
- CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford
Craig resigned his Senate seat effective September 30.
BOISE, Idaho (CNN) - With the man who will appoint his successor standing behind him, Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho said Saturday he will leave Congress where he has served for nearly three decades.
"It is with sadness and deep regret that I announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate effective September 30th. In doing so ... I hope to allow a smooth and orderly transition of my loyal staff and for the person appointed to take my place," Craig said in a brief statement.
A cheer went up in the crowd after he said he would resign, but there also were political supporters and family members nearby.
He acknowledged several political leaders at the news conference, including Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, a Republican, who will appoint an interim replacement for Craig who will serve until the 2008 election.
"To have the governor standing behind me as he always has, his tremendous strength for me .... is tremendously humbling," Craig said. "For any public official at this moment in time to be standing with Larry Craig is, in itself, a humbling experience."