Dennis Hastert had a problem. He had agreed to pay hush money to a former wrestler, to keep evidence of past sexual abuse secret. But the deal he made involved a lot of money.
Three and a half million dollars.
"I told him I couldn’t pay 3 and a half million dollars," Hastert said in a sworn deposition. "I didn’t have it."
The statement came in court documents released last week as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by Hastert’s accuser, identified as James Doe. While Hastert did pay him at least $1.7 million, Doe is asking the court to force the disgraced former speaker to pay the balance of what he says he was promised.
"Was there some reason that you didn’t just pay the whole amount off?"Hastert was asked.
"I didn’t have it," he responded.
"Could you have gotten it?"
"I doubt it," he said.
"Did you try?"
"“No, not really," Hastert said. "I didn’t have any place to go."
Hastert eventually agreed to pay Doe $50,000 every six weeks to ensure his silence. But he argues the deal should have been considered null and void, because his accuser confided details to friends and members of his family.
"Just the whole issue would be held in confidence," Hastert said he had understood. "I think there was an agreement that we would both be confidential."
For his part, Doe suggested that he believed the confidentiality pertained to more official entities.
"My obligation was not to go to a lawyer," he said in his own deposition. "Not to go to law, police, not to go to media of any kind."
"He wanted this to remain completely between he and I," Doe said. "I agreed, to a great extent, because I didn’t want this information out or I didn’t want my children or my family exposed to any ramifications that might occur."
At one point, Doe says there was discussion about what might happen if Hastert died before all of the payments were completed, or if he died during the ongoing process.
"I said, well then you’ll have to deal with my wife," Doe said. "She was fully aware of the agreement."
Hastert’s attorney John Ellis has argued in court filings that the agreement was effectively nullified when Doe began telling others about the payments.
"The parties agreed to keep the agreement and its subject matter strictly confidential," Ellis wrote. "He immediately and repeatedly breached his only obligation under the agreement, bty disclosing i8t to his wife, his father, his therapist, his friend, the authorities, and his wife’s sister’s husband."
What’s more, Ellis argued the deal was effectively off when the FBI intervened.
"Plaintiff concedes that the investigation rendered performance of the agreement impossible," he wrote.
The contentious lawsuit drags on in Kendall County court. Another hearing is set for early April.