By Nick Gale, WLS News
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has pleaded not guilty to charges that he broke banking laws and lied to FBI investigators.
In a dark suit with slouched shoulders, Hastert didn’t say much in court, just answering yes to a few of the judge’s questions. He was released following the arraignment on$4,500 bond and did not talk with reporters as he left court.
There was no talk in court about allegations that he was pulling large sums of money out of the bank to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep quiet a secret about his past. Sources have indicated those payments were intended to conceal claims that Hastert sexually molested someone decades ago.
So what’s the next step for Hastert and his legal team? Richard Kling, professor at Chicago Kent College of Law, says Hastert may have pleaded not guilty, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to court.
“I would imagine they are in negotiations,” Kling said. “I can’t imagine that he’s going to go to trial because if he goes to trial all of the dirty laundry is no longer going to be under the bed.”
As for Judge Thomas Durkin giving both parties a choice to remove him from hearing the trial after it was disclosed that he twice donated to Hastert’s campaigns through a law firm which he worked and had previously worked with Hastert’s son, Kling says he doubts attorneys for Hastert and the government would make such a request.
“I think he gave the lawyers a choice, ‘If you want to have me recuse myself I will.’ I don’t think they’re going to opt for that choice,” Kling said.
Both sides have until June 11th to make that decision. Until then, no other court dates have been set.
Meanwhile, Hastert must surrender his passport, although he can still travel in the continental United States. He must also turn over any guns in his home.
@ Copyright 2015 WLS News