The head of the House Democrats' campaign committee, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, had heard of former Rep. Mark Foley's inappropriate e-mails to a former male page a year before they became public, a campaign committee aide told CNN.
I guess now we know why the Ethics Committee's report was a whitewash.
I've been tracking this story this evening (I first learned of it last night, but got busy during the day today), and through email, I've discussed the story's implications with a number of other Democratic supporters.
One of the first things I learned comes from Down With Tyranny. Follow me over the flip - this conversation is important.
This is from Down With Tyranny:
This is a story I have been looking at since Dave Lutrin started telling me how Emanuel and his bullyboys were trying to drive him out of the Democratic primary. At the time I was very aware that the entrenched incumbent in a very Republican south-central Florida district was gay. But it was no secret from anyone, except of course the suckers and rubes who vote in the district, that Foley was a flaming homosexual who was out of control and couldn't keep his hands off young men. It was over a year ago I started writing about Foley and young military boys. What I didn't know at the time-- but, we now find out (despite his earlier public denials on TV)-- is that DCCC head Rahm Emanuel was aware at least since 2005 that Foley was molesting young male pages. Emanuel, every bit as bad a scumbag as Foley and the GOP leadership who covered up for Foley, did nothing to protect the young pages from predators like Foley and Arizona Republican Jim Kolbe (who was also preying on them). Instead he decided to use the info as ammo in his partisan war to win a seat from the Republicans.
I was scatching my head at the vehemence Emanuel employed in the run up to the primary in trying to drive Dave Lutrin out of the race. Lutin is a school teacher and union member and a good family man. He's also an independent-minded progressive, passionate about Democratic ideals and values-- exactly the kind of Democrat Emanuel loathes. Lutrin opposes the systemic corruption that allows weasels like Emanuel to thrive in DC and he opposed the war in Iraq that Emanuel was warning Democratic challengers to be quiet about.
Last June the current Emanuel-backed congressman-elect, Tim Mahoney, was a rich countryclub Republican and a corrupt businessman, Emanuel's cup of tea. Emanuel, already aware that he could force Foley to resign, convinced Mahoney to switch party registration-- although not values and principles; I mean there is a difference between Democratic values and Republican values... right?-- and voila! all Emanuel and his stooges, like Steny Hoyer and Ellen Tauscher, had to do was drive the real Democrat out of the primary and clear the way for Mahoney. This he did, employing all the dirty tricks he used during the election cycle to attack the campaigns of true Democrats like Jerry McNerney, Christine Cegelis, Carol Shea-Porter, Larry Kissell, Paul Hackett, John Hall and dozens of others all over the country.
When I get back from Argentina in January I plan to invite Dave Lutrin over to Firedoglake to talk about what happened in the district and how progressives can move forward inside of a Democratic Party dominated by slime like Emanuel and his coterie.
So as I've said, I've been exchanging ideas with friends about what this should mean to us. Some people think that Emmanuel did a great job last cycle as head of the DCCC and deserves some slack... I guess the gist of the idea is that he's a brilliant politician and we're better for having him on our team.
I bet you know already what I think, but to be clear, anyone that thinks like that is full of the most putrid shit imaginable.
Honestly, I have difficulty understanding what there is to discuss.
Rahm Emmanuel is key leader of Democrats in the House. He, at a minimum, knew of the emails and was in a position to know more if he wanted to. As a leader, he could have compelled staff to print the emails and show them to him.
This was Emmanuel on Stephanopoulos in October:
Stephanopoulos explicitly asked Emanuel: "I just want to ask you plainly -- did you or your staff know anything about these emails or instant messages before they came out?"
Emanuel interrupted the question with an emphatic "no." Then, once Stephanopoulos was done with the question, this is what Emanuel replied: "George, never saw 'em . . . . "
After that answer, Putnam interjected this question: "Were you aware of them?" Emanuel replied: "Never saw them." A moment later, Stephanopoulos said to Emanuel: "So you were not aware of them, had no involvement?" Emanuel replied: "No. Never saw them. No involvement. . . ." Putnam again asked: "Was there an awareness?" Emanuel replied: "No. Never saw them. The first time I ever saw these things, right here was when Brian Ross broke the story."
Lawyers on can help me out in the comments, but this sounds like a savvy operator that wanted to maintain a level of deniability, so he avoided any direct observation of the emails. On the other hand, there is nothing in that denial that indicates he didn't have the emails read to him.
Again, I'm not a lawyer, but when you consider the circumstantial evidence that Howie has presented at Down With Tyranny - that Emmanuel got involved very early in a blood-red district - well, to me, that cinches the case... Emmanuel knew exactly what he was dealing with. He wouldn't invest time and resources in that district without absolute knowledge that he had something to work with.
So... The next question I ask myself is: What should he have done?
I don't think there's any question - he should have gone to the FBI or some legal authority. The CNN article says Democratic staff leaked some of the information to a couple of press outlets in 2005. Some have suggested that Emmanuel directed those leaks. Well, "leaking" the information to the press was a prima facia case of "not enough". A year went by between the time of the leaks and the time Foley was exposed. Foley was a constant danger in the interim, and Emmanuel knew as much. If, for whatever reason he didn't want to go to law enforcement, he could have just as easily removed the threat by filing his own ethics complaint. Of course Emmanuel apologists have said the the Republicans would have refused to investigate. I don't buy it because as soon as that turd was loosed upon the press (in September 2006), there was a HUGE press frenzy. If we had filed the Ethics complaint in 2005, the press pressure would have forced GOP action.
So in the end, what we have is another crooked politician. But this isn't your run of the mill crooked politician that unjustly enriches himself (think Cunnigham, Jefferson, Ney) - this is a person whose heart is so black that he'd endanger children entrusted to his care in pursuit of greater power. When you are that far gone, I can't see how anyone could possibly justify letting you off the hook. Rahm Emmanuel has proven himself to be a very bad person. Bad people cannot be allowed in the leadership of the Democratic Party - the consequences are too great.
For too long we've been trudging through the political wilderness. The American people have given us a chance to lead. Should the first thing we do be the cover-up of a person that traded the safety of high school children for political gain? Do you understand why I'm incredulous that this question even needs to be asked?
Finally - we need to be assured that Nancy Pelosi and Staney Hoyer had nothing to do with this. We've been lied to for three months with regards to Emmanuel. It's important that we know the whole truth.
Update [2006-12-11 1:32:55 by Mike Stark]: It's been pointed out in the comments (there's a transcript) that it wasn't Russert and it wasn't MTP. It was actually on Stephanopoulos' that Emmanuel was asked the questions. Mucho gracias to steelman for that fix. (I incorporated his comment into the diary)