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Opinion: Craig takes new stance, now seeks to toss guilty plea

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Sen. Larry Craig, who may or may not be resigning from the Senate for his arrest and guilty plea over an airport men’s-room incident where he may or may not have solicited sex by perhaps tapping his foot, has certainly filed papers to reverse his guilty plea.

In Minneapolis today, the Idaho Republican submitted documents saying he was in an intensely anxious state at the time of his arrest in a police sting and ‘felt compelled to grasp the lifeline offered to him by the police officer.’ The papers say his guilty plea to disorderly conduct charges wasn’t ‘knowingly and understandingly made’ and the evidence was insufficient to support the plea.

Under Minnesota law Craig will have to prove a ‘manifest injustice’ to overturn his guilty plea, which involved signing each page of documents that said he made no claim of innocence and ‘engaged in conduct which I knew or should have known tended to arouse alarm.’

Legal experts say it will be a real challenge to overturn such a plea. After indicating the senator was reconsidering his ‘intent’ to resign, a Craig spokesman said the 62-year-old congressional veteran would proceed to leave if the plea was not overturned by Sept. 30.

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Before proceeding with the plea overturn attempt, Craig may or may not have considered that if he is able to erase the misdemeanor guilty plea, which carried a $575 fine and year’s probation, that would allow the prosecutor to reinstate the more serious gross misdemeanor interference with privacy charge, which could draw a one-year prison term. Hmmm. Let’s see, prison or probation?

Before not resigning, Craig might or might not also want to take a peek at a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Poll of 1,017 Americans released today. Sixty-seven percent -- solid majorities of both Democrats and Republicans -- said he should resign. Only 26% said he should stay in the Senate. Seven percent found themselves unsure of what he should or should not do.

But they may or may not have been aware of the arresting officer’s interview with Craig.

--Andrew Malcolm


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