Here’s something you don’t see every day: one of the most powerful men in the country being extorted on live television.
Well, maybe. Former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who is currently on the business end of an FBI probe into $3.5 million in alleged hush money he agreed to pay to a former student he may have abused while working as a wrestling coach and teacher in Yorkville, Illinois from 1965 to 1981, was on C-SPAN in November 2014 when he received what now looks like an incredibly suspicious call.
“Hello Denny,” the caller identified as “Bruce” says, before Hastert asks how he’s doing. “Pretty good. Remember me from Yorkville?” the caller responds, launching into a creepy laugh. He’s cut off.
See the clip from C-SPAN below:
Bruce could be no one, or he could be the “Individual A” named in the FBI indictment, or even more troublingly, he could be yet another random person with a link to Hastert’s sordid past.
While the details of Hastert’s situation have yet to be revealed, this particular incident is way too inconvenient to be ignored. Did Dennis Hastert, one of the Republican speakers who led the impeachment of President Bill Clinton for a far less scandalous affair, find himself in a much more compromising position last year?
In addition to the fact that Hastert is apparently a total hypocrite on social issues, the idea that a speaker of the house could allow a garden-variety extortionist to reduce him to a position of such utter impotence is pretty concerning. Here, possibly, is that blackmail happening to him on live television. What if this caller had pressed his advantage while Hastert was still in office?
There is already reason enough to believe that Hastert was scared enough of this skeleton in his closet to let congressional page abuser Mark Foley’s escapades go uninvestigated, but this little incident raises the possibility that Hastert’s impropriety could have been an issue of national security.