WASHINGTON — Sen. Larry Craig has apologized to his U.S. Senate colleagues for the "distraction" of his recent notoriety and has sent them a letter outlining his legal strategy for withdrawing a guilty plea in connection with a sex sting.
The letter went directly to fellow senators and included a copy of the motion Craig filed Monday in Hennepin County, Minn., courts, seeking to undo his Aug. 1 guilty plea to a disorderly conduct misdemeanor.
The three-term Idaho senator was arrested June 11 in the men's room of the Minneapolis airport after an undercover police officer said the senator signaled he was interested in sexual activity. He said he intends to resign at the end of this month unless he can clear his name.
Craig's spokesman Dan Whiting said that he had not seen the letter or the Roll Call article that first mentioned it, but he was aware of it. He described it Friday as merely a "simple cover letter" for the legal filings. It went out to his colleagues this week "so that senators, if they wanted, could read it without the media filter," Whiting said in an e-mail.
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The letter was sent because some fellow senators had contacted Craig's office and wanted more information about his legal case, said Judy Smith, a spokeswoman for Craig's Washington, D.C., criminal attorney, Bill Martin. Its purpose was to "just to keep them informed of the state of the legal issues," Smith said.
Craig has a Sept. 26 court hearing in Minnesota, but it's not clear whether he will be there.
His legal team is still trying to figure out whether it's an evidentiary-type hearing and whether he will need to testify. They also aren't sure whether the judge will issue a ruling on the spot.
After the news broke of his arrest, Craig's Republican colleagues in the Senate launched an ethics investigation and asked him to give up his leadership posts on several committees, including a top Republican leadership job on the Interior Appropriations subcommittee.
Erika Bolstad: (202) 383-6104