U.S. Senator Larry Craig filed papers with a Minnesota court today asking that he be allowed to take back the guilty plea he made after his arrest in a men's restroom sex sting, saying he is innocent but that he was "anxious" and "deeply panicked" during the interrogation.
"Senator Craig has never changed or recanted his assertion that he did not engage in improper conduct, and, at the time the plea offer was drafted, both the police officers and prosecutors were aware that he steadfastly denied engaging in any improper conduct," reads the affidavit, the full text of which is available at The Smoking Gun.
The prosecutor in the case will oppose Craig's filing, said Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
"We will oppose the motion filed today by the senator and defend the case vigorously in court," Hogan said.
Under Minnesota law, withdrawal of a guilty plea may be permitted by a court if "necessary to correct a manifest injustice". Craig’s lawyers maintain that because the senator did not consult with a lawyer and never entered his plea before a judge in open court, he was never made aware of the potential consequences of his guilty plea – or of the potential for humiliation if news of the conviction became public knowledge.
Larry Craig knew full well the implications of his plea, and the fact that reporters had been digging into his sexual activity in the months preceding the arrest in the airport restroom is no coincidence. While perhaps the sensationalism attached to this case violates Craig's privacy, at the same time it is difficult to accept the notion that Craig is somehow a "victim." Craig would better serve his constituents by immediately resigning from the Senate and putting this all behind him.
Of course, the fact that he has retained high-priced attorneys to help him out of the mess he created for himself suggests that Craig fully intends to make an embarassing situation much worse.