The prosecutor who handled U.S. Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea after a sex sting at the Minneapolis airport says a court should rebuff Craig's attempt to withdraw his guilty plea. He says Craig's effort represents "politicking and game playing."
Prosecuting Attorney Christopher P. Renz of the Metropolitan Airports Commission says Craig's request falls short of the standard of "manifest injustice" courts have required for other guilty pleas to be withdrawn in Minnesota.
Renz filed a motion Monday afternoon in the court that will hear Craig's request Wednesday.
"The essence of the defendant's motion is that the court should allow him to withdraw his plea because he was under the strain of a newspaper investigation and purportedly relied on the arresting officer's statements" that Craig's arrest would not become public, Renz wrote.
"There is nothing about the circumstances of the defendant's plea that comes close to surpassing the high bar of 'manifest injustice' that must be reached for the defendant to be granted the rare relief of plea withdrawal."
What's more, "denial of the defendant's motion prevents further politicking and game playing on the part of the defendant in relation to his plea," Renz wrote.
Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after an undercover officer said the Idaho Republican tried to solicit sex from him June 11 in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. The arrest and plea were not reported publicly until late August.
The ensuing scandal led Senate Republican leaders to pressure Craig to resign. He first said he planned to quit Sept. 30 -- that's this Sunday -- but later said he might stay in office if he could clear his name in the court before then.
Craig denies soliciting sex, saying his actions in the men's room were misconstrued by police. He said he kept the matter quiet and did not tell even a lawyer in hopes it would go away. He said he was panicked by an Idaho Statesman investigation into longstanding rumors that he had engaged in sex with men.