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Senate Republicans Don’t Defend Ensign: Aides Say Probes Will Decide His Fate

Posted by Audiegrl

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AP/Laurie Kellman—Sen. John Ensign of Nevada was only beginning to emerge from a self-imposed political exile over fallout from his extramarital affair with a campaign aide. Now, tawdry new details about the case are raising fresh questions whether Ensign can be re-elected in 2012 – or even face criminal charges over his behavior.

If Ensign was looking for signs of support among Republican leaders on Capitol Hill on Friday, he didn’t get any. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell declined repeatedly to answer questions about Ensign or offer any support. Other Republicans, already effectively a 60-40 minority in the Senate, also met the latest developments with silence, wary of speaking out until they see evidence of wrongdoing uncovered by the Senate ethics committee or federal law enforcement.

Ensign’s one-time presidential ambitions imploded this summer after disclosures about the affair – including reports of his own efforts to hide it by finding a consulting and lobbying job for his mistress’ husband, Doug Hampton, arranging for a $96,000 payment to the couple and doling out a promotion and pay raises to his mistress around the time of the affair. Ensign responded by keeping a low profile, rarely speaking to reporters and apologizing in meetings with constituents and Republican leaders in Nevada.

More @ Associated Press

The Hill/Alexander Bolton—Senior Republican aides say Sen. John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) political future will depend on what actions the Senate Ethics Committee or the Justice Department may take against the lawmaker.

A senior GOP aide said that if the Senate Ethics Committee was not already investigating Ensign, it would be certain to launch a probe now.

The aide said that Ensign would have to answer the new allegations himself.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to comment about Ensign’s political future during a Friday morning news conference. The session was supposed to be devoted to healthcare reform, but questions soon turned to Ensign.

“I really don’t have any observations to make about the Ensign matter,” McConnell said, reiterating his position after reporters barraged him with persistent questioning. “I don’t think today is a day to make any observations about the matter — it just appeared in the newspaper today.”

More @ bg_headthehill

Previous coverage

Flouting Lobbying Ban, Ensign Helped Hampton Clients: Revealed in New York Times Investigation

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