Justice Dept. denies Hastert is under investigation

Lots of rumors swirling around today about the rumor that House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-Ill) is under investigation for alleged ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The Justice Dept is denying it:

WASHINGTON May 24, 2006 (AP)β€” The Justice Department denied a news report Wednesday that it was investigating House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

The statement by department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos came in response to a report by ABC News that Hastert was under investigation by the FBI to determine his role in a public corruption probe centered around convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Amid a furor surrounding the weekend FBI raid on the offices of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., ABC quoted federal officials as saying information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists now cooperating with the government.

Hastert, R-Ill., sharply criticized the raid and, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., demanded that Justice Department officials return all the documents seized from Jefferson’s office.

Asked if he was being investigated, Hastert said late Wednesday that he has not received any notice from the Justice Department that he was being investigated as part of the Jack Abramoff probe.

“You’ll have to ask the Justice Department,” he told reporters, as he walked from his office to the House chamber. “Somebody leaked it out.”

Pressed by reporters, Scolinos said: “Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department.”

Hastert’s office later issued a statement calling the ABC report “absolutely untrue” and demanding a full retraction. ABC had no immediate comment.

Allahpundit has a link roundup and notes ABC’s rewriting and shifty reporting on the issue.

PM Update 10:00 PM ET: He’s now claiming the Justice Dept is retaliating against him – for his stance against the search of Rep. Jefferson’s office – with this ‘leak.’

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