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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 05:57 GMT 06:57 UK
Bush 'disgust' at e-mail scandal
Mark Foley
Foley checked himself into an undisclosed clinic at the weekend
US President George W Bush says he is disgusted by the actions of former Congressman Mark Foley, accused of sending explicit e-mails to youths.

But he defended Dennis Hastert, the Republican House leader facing calls to quit for allegedly ignoring the affair.

The row over the alleged cover-up is dominating politics as mid-term polls approach, a BBC correspondent says.

Mr Foley resigned on Friday after revelations that he had sent sexual messages to young men on his staff.

The youngest recipient of the suggestive e-mails is said to have been 16 years old.

Mr Foley was a member of the House of Representatives caucus on missing and exploited children.

His lawyer says he has checked into a rehabilitation clinic to be treated for alcoholism.

Mr Foley's lawyer says his client was abused at a church in his early teens and has declared he is gay.

He said Mr Foley denied ever having sexual contact with a minor.

'Resign... at once'

Mr Bush said he was disappointed that Mr Foley "would violate the trust of the citizens who placed him in office".

But the president said he supported Mr Hastert, who has called for an investigation into Mr Foley's e-mails.

Mr Hastert "wants all the facts to come out", Mr Bush said.

"I am confident he will provide whatever leadership he can to law enforcement in this investigation," he said.

"He's a father, teacher, coach who cares about the children of this country."

Mr Hastert has denied he knew about the messages before the scandal became public.

"Anyone who had knowledge of these instant messages should have turned them over to authorities immediately, so that kids could be protected," he said earlier.

"I repeat again: the Republican leaders of the House did not have them."

The leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, has said Republican leaders "admitted to knowing about Mr Foley's abhorrent behaviour for six months to a year, and failed to protect the children in their trust".

The conservative Washington Times newspaper has also called for Mr Hastert to resign.

An editorial in the paper said Mr Hastert had not acted on warnings over Mr Foley's conduct and must now "do the only right thing and resign his speakership at once".

Washington sex e-mail row deepens
02 Oct 06 |  Americas

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