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Craig on police
tape: "I'm not gay"

Craig on police
tape: "I'm not gay"

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Minutes after he was arrested for lewd conduct, Sen. Larry Craig denied soliciting an undercover officer for sex in a men's bathroom and pleaded, ''I'm not gay. I don't do these kinds of things.''

Craig, R-Idaho, denied that he had used foot and hand gestures to signal interest in a sexual encounter, according to a taped interview released Thursday by the Minneapolis Airport Police. The officer, Sgt. Dave Karsnia, accused the three-term senator of lying and grew exasperated with his denials.

''Embarrassing, embarrassing. No wonder why we're going down the tubes,'' Karsnia said.

Craig, 62, never admitted in the interview to doing anything wrong and claimed his actions had been misinterpreted. However, Karsnia wrote in his report that the gestures were consistent with efforts to find a sexual partner in the men's room.

Craig later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct. He now calls his plea a mistake.

On the tape Craig and the arresting officer can be heard arguing over what happened in the men's room minutes earlier. Craig acknowledges that the men's feet bumped but says nothing improper happened.

''Did we bump? Yes, I think we did. You said so. I don't disagree with that,'' Craig said.

But Craig disputes the officer's account that he swept his hand under the stall next to him in an apparent effort to advance the encounter. They even disagree whether Craig used his right hand or his left hand.

Craig said he was merely trying to pick up a piece of paper--an account the officer disputes.

''I'm telling you that I could see, so I know that's your left hand. Also I could see a gold ring on this finger, so that's obvious it was the left hand,'' Karsnia tells Craig.

''Well, we can dispute that,'' Craig says. ''I'm not going to fight you in court. I reached down with my right hand to pick up the paper.''

Karsnia said in a police report that he recognized Craig's hand gesture as a signal aimed at initiating sex. ''It should be noted that there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper,'' he said in the report.

Karsnia, 29, joined the airport police department just out of college in 2000 and was promoted to sergeant in 2005. Last year he earned a master's degree in criminal justice, leadership, and education.

He has arrested at least a dozen men in the airport's bathroom for sending signals he believed were aimed at initiating sex. Each time Karsnia walked suspects to a spot where they could speak privately, without embarrassing them, according to the police reports he wrote. He didn't handcuff them.

More Republicans distanced themselves from Craig on Thursday. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who chairs the GOP's senatorial campaign committee, stopped short of calling on him to resign but suggested strongly that he should. Senators Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, each turned over to charity $2,500 in campaign donations they had received from Craig's political action committee.

Coleman and several other Republicans--including presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.--have called for Craig to resign his seat in the Senate. Craig already has agreed to a request by Republican leaders to give up his ranking status on the Veterans Affairs Committee and Appropriations subcommittees.

Craig said Tuesday he had committed no wrongdoing and shouldn't have pleaded guilty. He said he had only recently retained a lawyer to advise him in the case, which threatens to write an ignominious end to a lifetime in public office. (Matthew Daly, AP)

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Craig on police
tape: "I'm not gay"

" >
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