Larry Craig

Lawyer: Craig to ask court to rescind plea

WASHINGTON — Sen. Larry Craig will file court documents today asking to withdraw his guilty plea in a sex sting that seems likely to end his career, his attorney said.

Craig, an Idaho Republican, pleaded guilty in August to misdemeanor disorderly conduct after a sting operation in a men's bathroom at the Minneapolis airport.

He has said he regrets that decision. He said he was under stress and pleaded guilty hastily and without talking to an attorney because he wanted to put the matter behind him.

Attorney William Martin said Sunday night that a request to withdraw that plea will be filed today. Such requests are rarely granted. Martin would not discuss the argument he planned to make in court.

Martin said he was not involved in discussions about Craig's future in the Senate.

Craig originally announced he intended to resign at the end of this month, then said he was reconsidering that decision. His chief spokesman later said Craig had dropped virtually all notions of trying to finish his third term.

"My job is to get him back to where he was before his rights were taken away," Martin said.

Craig's congressional spokesman has said the only way that Craig is likely to remain in the Senate is if a court moves quickly to overturn the conviction, something that is unlikely to happen before Sept. 30.

Judy Smith, a spokeswoman for Craig's legal team, said the lawyers are focused only on the Minnesota case, not political outcomes.

Many Republicans have urged Craig to say for sure that he will resign. That would spare the party an ethics dilemma and the embarrassment of dealing with a colleague who had been stripped of his committee leadership posts.

It also would negate the need for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation, which GOP leaders had requested.