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Idaho Sen. Larry Craig Announces Resignation

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Senator LARRY CRAIG (Representative, Idaho): To Idahoans, I represent, to my staff, my Senate colleagues, but most importantly, to my wife and my family, I apologize for what I have caused. I'm deeply sorry.

SIMON: Senator Larry Craig of Idaho held a news conference today. As expected, he announced he would resign effective September 30th. After issuing his apology to his family and others, Mr. Craig said that he is stepping down because pursuing a legal case surrounding his arrest in an airport men's room in Minneapolis would be, quoted, "unfair distraction."

NPR's Martin Kaste joins us from Boise.

Martin, thanks for being with us.

MARTIN KASTE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: And what are the senator's legal options because he's already pled guilty?

KASTE: I think most people - most legal experts agree there aren't many options here. I think a lot of people are listening to him say that in part - as part of - just sort of his exit strategy here. It's really a somber case. I mean, this morning, we just watched him announce his resignation in (unintelligible) overlooking Boise. And it was a pretty, pretty quiet, somber crowd.

Some of his supporters showed up. One would compare it to an execution, political execution. And the Democrats were watching here on from the sidelines also are not celebrating, at least not publicly. So I think when he says he is resigning to pursue his legal options, well, he may have that but reversing a guilty plea is very difficult and I think if nothing else, it does allow him to save a little face as he resigns here.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. Do you have any idea about why the resignation is effective September 30th, what he would hope to do over the next month?

KASTE: What he's talking about is a transition. He wants an orderly transition to his replacement - whoever that may be. The governor here will choose the next interim senator until - to serve out the rest of his term.

So I think the rationale there is sort of just have an orderly transition of staff, you know, issues and that kind of things, the senator's very involved in agricultural issues and questions of immigration reform. So I think they want to be able to transfer some of that know-how and expertise in staff to a new person.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. And, Martin, any - would you consider solid reports as to who might replace Senator Craig?

KASTE: Nothing attributable to anyone who will go on the record here, but all bets right now, locally, are on Jim Riche, who's lieutenant governor right now, and who is very politically ambitious and who is thought to be preparing to run for this office anyway if Craig were to resign.

SIMON: Martin Kaste in Boise, thanks very much.

KASTE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Martin Kaste is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers law enforcement and privacy. He has been focused on police and use of force since before the 2014 protests in Ferguson, and that coverage led to the creation of NPR's Criminal Justice Collaborative.
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