Blackmail? Reading between the lines of Hastert's indictment

Blackmail? Reading Between the Lines of Hastert's Indictment
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.

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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