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Ensign apologizes to GOP colleagues

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) gave his GOP colleagues a two-minute apology at Tuesday’s policy lunch for “embarrassing the Senate.”

Ensign offered a “very contrite, very sincere” apology for the extramarital affair that he acknowledged last week at a Las Vegas news conference, according to multiple GOP senators.

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“Everybody has flaws — we all do,” said Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Overnight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Hatch introduces bipartisan bill to clarify cross-border data policies MORE (R-Utah). “All we can do is show love and kindness. He’s so well-thought-of in the caucus.”

The apology was followed by a round of applause by all Republicans, similar to that which was delivered to Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterTrump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? Not the Senate's job to second-guess Alabama voters MORE (La.) and former Sens. Larry Craig (Idaho) and Ted Stevens (Alaska) after their recent controversies.

A spokesman for the Senate Ethics Committee would not comment Tuesday when asked whether the committee is considering any inquiries into the matter.

A show of support also came from Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo end sugar subsidies, conservatives can't launch a frontal attack House presses Senate GOP on filibuster reform A pro-science approach to Yucca Mountain appropriations MORE (D-Nev.), who had a narrow, contentious race against Ensign in his first Senate election in 1998. Reid told reporters he was standing by Ensign, noting that he knew Ensign’s father, Michael, for many years.

“Everyone knows that Sen. Ensign and I had a very difficult race in 1998. We have become friends since then,” Reid said. “I’m concerned about his family, and I hope he works his way through this … As far as me commenting on any — any more, I think I’ve said all I plan to say on Sen. Ensign today.”

There were no Senate votes Tuesday. Ensign spent the morning alone in his Senate hideaway, making no public appearances, and he left the GOP lunch through a semi-private door to avoid reporters gathered around a more public entrance. He has avoided taking questions from the press since his return on Monday to the Senate, simply referring reporters to his week-old statement acknowledging the affair and declining to comment further.

Meanwhile, several Republicans said Thursday’s leadership elections within the conference are all but settled. Ensign resigned last week as GOP Policy chairman, and will be replaced by Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOvernight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Apple tells senator it may give rebates to consumers who bought iPhone batteries Republican agenda clouded by division MORE (R-S.D.). Thune will be replaced as vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference by Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiLawmakers scold Trump official over Pacific island trust fund Republican agenda clouded by division Greens sue over Interior plans to build road through Alaska refuge MORE (Alaska).

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (Ky.) spoke only briefly about Ensign on Tuesday, simply saying he “spoke at our conference, apologized and indicated that he was going to do his job.”

Doug Hampton, the husband of the woman Ensign had the affair with, said in a letter sent to media that he and others have confronted the senator at his Washington, D.C., home, which he shares with Sens. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnPaul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism Republicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks Republicans should know reviving earmarks is a political nightmare MORE (R-Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

Hampton said in the letter that Coburn was present during one confrontation.

When approached by The Hill, Coburn would not comment on whether he had prior knowledge of Ensign’s affair. Coburn said “80 percent” of the reporting on Ensign’s affair and admission have been inaccurate, but would not elaborate.