Blackmail? Reading between the lines of Hastert's indictment

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Blackmail? Reading Between the Lines of Hastert's Indictment

Citing unnamed sources, the Los Angeles Times is now reporting Hastert tried to cover up sexual misconduct related to his time as a high school teacher and wrestling coach -- and according to NBC, Hastert had a sexual relationship with a male student and then paid him off to conceal the relationship.

Based on recent headlines, the apparent takeaway is that the former Republican House speaker was indicted for paying hush money. But "hush money" on its own isn't considered a crime. It's not illegal to pay someone to keep your secret.

More likely, the indictment wasn't due to the pay-up, but rather, the cover-up.

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Blackmail? Reading between the lines of Hastert's indictment
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert leaves after a guilty plea at Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015 in Chicago. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse, Tuesday, June 9, 2015, in Chicago for his arraignment on federal charges that he broke federal banking laws and lied about the money when questioned by the FBI. The indictment two weeks ago alleged Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to someone from his days as a high school teacher not to reveal a secret about past misconduct. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse Tuesday, June 9, 2015, in Chicago for his arraignment on federal charges that he broke federal banking laws and lied about the money when questioned by the FBI. The indictment two weeks ago alleged Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to someone from his days as a high school teacher not to reveal a secret about past misconduct. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, right, addresses the Illinois House, where he began his political career, while Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, looks on during session at the Illinois State Capitol Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Springfield, Ill. The former high school wrestler coach from Yorkville was in Springfield to support a resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee to restore grappling to the Olympic Games.while on the House floor (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
A pedestrian walks past the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, Monday, June 1, 2015, in Chicago where former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday on allegations he agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money to someone from the Illinois town where he was once a teacher and coach. (AP Photo/Christian K. Lee)
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 15: Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) walks through Statuary Hall on his way to the House floor to make his farewell address to Congress November 15, 2007 in Washington, DC. He announced his resignation today and said he will leave office before the end of December. Hastert, 65, announced in August he would not seek reelection in 2008. Hastert was the longest-serving Republican speaker in U.S. history, and the first speaker since 1955 to remain in Congress after losing the speakership. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert addresses the Illinois House, where he began his political career, during session at the Illinois State Capitol Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Springfield, Ill. The former high school wrestler coach from Yorkville was in Springfield to support a resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee to restore grappling to the Olympic Games while on the House floor. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
House Speaker John Boehner, left, and former Speaker Dennis Hastert listen as former Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks during a tribute to Henry Clay at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., Friday, June 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert gestures as he speaks in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 28, 2009, following the unveiling of his portrait. Hastert was the 51st Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999-2007. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert speaks to lawmakers on the Illinois House of Representatives floor at the state Capitol in Springfield on Wednesday, March 5, 2008. Hastert was being honored by Illinois lawmakers for his many years of legislative service. On Saturday March 8, 2008, voters in 14th Congressional District will vote in a special election to fill the seat of the retiring Hastert. Running to fill the seat are businessmen Democrat Bill Foster and Republican Jim Oberweis. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., talks to a reporter on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007, after giving a farewell speech on the floor on the House. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Dennis Hastert, former speaker of the US House of Representatives, attends the annual meeting of the Iranian resistance, presided over by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Villepinte, near Paris, on June 22, 2013. Some 500 parliamentarians from the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Arab countries were expected to join the gathering on June 22, one week after Hassan Rowhani, a moderate cleric, was declared winner of Iran's presidential election, ending an eight-year conservative grip on the Islamic republic's administration under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Maryam Rajavi, president of the NCRI, denounced the 'sham election' in Iran and called on the West to stand firm with respect to Hassan Rohani, 'responsible for the machine or repression'. AFP PHOTO / JACQUES DEMARTHON (Photo credit should read JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JULY 28: Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (C) is joined by current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) during a ceremony unveiling Hastert's portrati at the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hastert is the longest serving Republican speaker to date, holding the post from 1999-2007. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
FILE - In this 1985 file photo, U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., speaks in Springfield, Ill., when he was an Illinois state Rep. from Oswego. A newly unveiled indictment against Hastert released Thursday, May 28, 2015, accuses the Republican of agreeing to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep a person from the town where he was a longtime schoolteacher silent about "prior misconduct." (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)
FILE - In this July 28, 2009, file photo, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, left, with his wife Jean, right, and grandson Jack, take part in a ceremony in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill, where Hastert's portrait was unveiled. A newly unveiled indictment against Hastert released Thursday, May 28, 2015, accuses the Republican of agreeing to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep a person from the town where he was a longtime schoolteacher silent about "prior misconduct." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais,File)
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Authorities accuse Hastert of illegally structuring cash withdrawals from the bank and then lying to the FBI when asked about it.

The seven-page indictment details a series of alleged meetings between Hastert and someone referred to only as Individual A. Hastert allegedly agreed to pay Individual A $3.5 million "to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A." Though the indictment never uses the word, it sounds a lot like blackmail, which is a criminal offense.

In 2009, David Letterman clued in the authorities when a TV news producer tried blackmailing him for $2 million — threatening to expose Letterman's sexual relationships with female staffers. Rather than forking up the money, the late-night host admitted to everything on national TV.

"I had to tell them all the creepy things that I have done," Letterman told his audience in 2009.

Hastert's situation feels more like Letterman's in reverse. It appears as though Individual A, the potential blackmailer, is the one cooperating with authorities.

"Likely the way they've written the indictment where it says 'Individual A' means 'Individual A' is likely to cooperate with the FBI at some point in the investigation. So I think there is more story to be told here," former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told CNN.

If and when we'll get more of the story remains to be seen. Still no word from Hastert himself.

Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (IL) - Profile | InsideGov

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