Turmoil in Hastert's Office as Key Staff Prepare to Testify

Top aides to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) are expected to testify this week in the House Ethics Committee investigation of the Foley page scandal.

Hastert may also appear, according to Chicago Sun-Times political reporter Lynn Sweet.  Today Chief of Staff Scott Palmer entered the room to testify before the committee around 2p.m.

The investigation of how the Republican leadership handled the issue has provoked turmoil and finger-pointing in Hastert's office, congressional sources say. 

Some of Hastert's principal aides have hired criminal defense lawyers to represent them during the investigation. Ted Van Der Meid, Hastert's chief in-house counsel, has retained Washington, D.C.-based attorney Lee Blalack, who also represents convicted former Congressman Duke Cunningham.

THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS

A key focus of the congressional investigation is the timing of when Hastert and his top staff first learned of Foley's problem behavior toward congressional pages.The results of an internal review conducted by the speaker's office, released on Sept. 30, said Hastert's staff only learned of complaints about Foley in the fall of 2005 after a congressional page complained about inappropriate e-mails.

But former House Clerk Jeff Trandahl as well as Kirk Fordham, Foley's former chief of staff, have both told associates, and are believed to have testified before the House Ethics Committee, that top staff in Speaker Hastert's office were informed several years ago about Foley's inappropriate behavior toward congressional pages.

Read the Blotter's Full Coverage on the Foley Internet Scandal.

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