Tony Snow Labels Foley’s Sex Messages to Teens ‘Simply Naughty E-mails’

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By: E&P Staff

Appearing on CNN this morning, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow referred to the sexual and graphic emails sent by former Rep. Mark Foley to several teenage pages as “simply naughty e-mails.”

Snow stated, “Look, I hate to tell you, but it’s not always pretty up there on Capitol Hill and there have been other scandals as you know that have been more than simply naughty e-mails.” He added that a full probe was needed to be “fair to all parties” who are being accused of not taking earlier action against Foley. Snow said to O’Brien, “What you are trying to do is pick fights here.”

The transcript of the exchange appears below.

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O’BRIEN: I do want to talk a little bit about Congressman Mark Foley which is our other prong. So if we can shift, I’d love to move on. There is a lot to talk about there as well. There is an investigation, as you well know, but my question would be, why is Representative Hastert, when he was aware that there were over friendly e-mails between a congressman and a 16-year-old page, why so slow to move to an investigation?

SNOW: You’re going to have to ask the speaker about that stuff. Look, our plate is full enough. This is a terrible story. And Soledad, I have three kids. I think it’s absolutely incumbent on members of Congress, many of whom have the charge of young pages, to make sure that these kids can come and get a good experience in Washington, not have to worry about the sort of things that have been alleged here. My sense is, figure out what the facts are, figure out who knew what when, let the House go ahead and conduct its investigations and others do it. We’re going to find out the facts and I think probably sooner or later, because people do want to know.

O’BRIEN: I would assume everybody would want to know, including the president. I mean we’re not talking about any old person, we’re talking about the leadership of the Republicans in Congress. Why would he not hear something that’s disturbing or his office? Over-friendly — when I see that word as a parent and I think any parent would say whoa, over-friendly? Any communication between a 16-year-old and a congressman why doesn’t that raise red flags, major, massive red flags?

SNOW: Look, I hate to tell you, but it’s not always pretty up there on Capitol Hill and there have been other scandals as you know that have been more than simply naughty e-mails. You know look, again, I’ll reiterate my point. I think it’s important to protect these kids and make sure that they have a good experience and like you, I want to find out what happened. But before we prosecute let’s figure out what all the facts are. That’s probably the most important thing to do is to be fair to all parties.

O’BRIEN: Well, there are some who would say the perception comes across then, regardless of where we are in the investigation, that in fact, there was more of a concern about political fallout than there was about the welfare of a 16-year-old or any other teenagers who may work in the office.

SNOW: Again Soledad, I’ll let you or the unnamed people draw the conclusions. I’m going to stick by my point which is that I think we have to take care of these kids.

O’BRIEN: Does the president and does the administration standby Representative Hastert as far as he has led so far on this issue?

SNOW: Again, we have to find out what’s going on. You’re trying to create problems. What you are trying to do is pick fights here. We need to figure out what’s going on. Find the facts, figure out what the situation is, everybody’s rushing for resignations and this and that. Let’s just figure out what the deal is and then we can proceed from there.

O’BRIEN: Well just a final point and I’m not — certainly not rushing for anybody’s resignation.

SNOW: Sure you are.

O’BRIEN: Absolutely not. I am just here to try the figure out the story, sir.

SNOW: So am I.

O’BRIEN: And I’m certainly not trying to create problems. I am just concerned as I would imagine lots of voters would be about the leadership on both sides, Democrats and Republicans.

SNOW: Look, I think it’s going to be interesting because maybe all these folks will start taking a look at how they treat the young people who are in their charge. Again, I’ll reiterate the second point, I think you and I agree on this. It’s a horrible story. It’s a horrible story. We have to figure out what happened, if there is a bigger problem, fix it.

O’BRIEN: Tony Snow is the White House press secretary. Nice to talk to you, thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

SNOW: Thanks Soledad.

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