By Ben Kamisar
There was an odd exchange between former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and an unidentified C-SPAN caller from his hometown in light of Thursday’s surprise indictment that he illegally transferred $3.5 million to a Yorkville resident to “conceal prior misconduct.”
The call came in while Hastert appeared on CSPAN’s "Washington Journal" on Nov. 13, a week after last year's midterm elections. The caller identified himself only as “Bruce" from Illinois.
“Hello, Denny,” the caller said.
CSPAN’s host Pedro Echevarria immediately moved onto the next caller and Hastert had no significant reaction to the call than other than indicating he knew "Bruce."
There’s no evidence linking the caller to Hastert’s alleged illegal activity, but the strange clip was posted onto the “My-CSPAN” video library by a C-SPAN viewer the day that the indictment was announced.
Hastert’s alleged misconduct isn’t detailed in the indictment and the person he is accused of paying off is not identified outside of being a long-time acquaintance of Hastert who lives in his hometown of Yorkville.
Buzzfeed News reported Friday that federal prosecutors agreed not to include the details of the allegations after a request from the former Speaker’s lawyers.
The Justice Department accuses him of agreeing to pay hush money in 2010 and adds that the FBI and IRS began investigating him in 2013 for making a series of cash withdrawals that the government alleges was meant to avoid required disclosures of withdrawals of $10,000 or more.
Hastert is also accused of lying to agents during the investigation. He’s since stepped down from his role at the lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro.