Hastert’s lawyer says leaks about case ‘have to stop’

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Not even 24 hours had passed after the feds dropped a bombshell indictment against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert before unnamed sources began to fill in the gaps about Hastert’s alleged $3.5 million hush-money scheme.

While the formal indictment refers only to “past misconduct,” sources soon told several media outlets that the powerful Republican withdrew thousands of dollars from his bank accounts allegedly to cover up sexual misconduct with a male student dating back to his time as a coach and teacher in Yorkville.

Now, Hastert’s criminal lawyer, Thomas Green, has told a federal judge that “something has to be done” about such leaks.

“They’re unconscionable, and they have to stop,” Green said Thursday, participating in an otherwise routine court hearing by phone.

The high-powered white-collar defense attorney from Washington, D.C., said the leaks could harm his client’s defense. He floated the suggestion that U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin investigate the matter, and he later said the leaks might be the topic of a future defense motion. Durkin simply said he would a require such a motion before taking any action.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Block called the leaks disturbing as he responded to Green’s complaint.

“We take them seriously, and the government is doing everything it can, taking appropriate measures to look into that,” Block said.

The exchange was prompted by the judge’s clarification of an order he granted earlier this week prohibiting the leak of evidence to outside parties as the case proceeds. Though he granted the order at the prosecutors’ request, he said he wanted it changed before he formally signs it.

Durkin said he wants the order to require his approval before documents may be filed under seal. He also said any document filed under seal must be accompanied by a public, redacted version of the same document. He warned that any document used as the basis for a court ruling could potentially be unsealed.

And he later added: “Anything that comes out at trial is a public record.”

Green’s complaint about leaks to the media amounted to the most extensive commentary by a Hastert representative since federal prosecutors unveiled the former speaker’s indictment for skirting banking laws and lying to the FBI late last month. Other lawyers who appeared in person to represent Hastert left the Dirksen Federal Courthouse without speaking to reporters.

The lawyers are next scheduled to appear in Durkin’s courtroom July 14. The judge said he’ll be looking for guidance from the attorneys then on how the case will likely proceed.

Hastert’s son, Ethan Hastert, also visited the federal courthouse Thursday. He appeared earlier in a separate courtroom to represent his father in an unrelated civil lawsuit. He also declined to speak to a reporter as he left the building.

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