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Hastert, feds agree judge should be kept on case

After U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin offered to recuse himself from overseeing the federal case of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert because of a possible conflict of interest, Hastert's lawyers and federal prosecutors filed papers Thursday allowing for the federal judge to be kept on the case.

Judge Durkin voluntarily suggested Tuesday that he would take himself off Hastert's case, saying that a "reasonable" person might perceive he had a conflict because of campaign donations he had once given to Hastert.

Hastert Indictment

Durkin, who donated $1,500 while in private practice to Hastert's campaign, also worked with Hastert's son at a law firm. Years ago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Durkin had also approached Hastert's office seeking a spot on the federal bench. Durkin's brother is also the Republican leader of Illinois' House of Representatives.

Despite the possibility of a perceived conflict of interest, Durkin said, "I have no doubt I can be impartial."

Hastert, the longest-serving Republican House speaker in history, appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded "not guilty" to federal charges stemming from his alleged attempts to cover up past sexual misconduct with a former student.

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