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Kolbe says he warned clerk about Foley, denies confrontation

Story Highlights

NEW: Aide says a tip line about the page program has received 400-plus calls
• Former clerk who oversaw the page program is set to talk to investigators
• Rep. Jim Kolbe says he knew of e-mails but didn't directly confront Mark Foley
• House speaker says staffers should lose their jobs if they covered up anything
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Denying a report that he confronted then-Rep. Mark Foley about his exchanges with teenage congressional pages, Rep. Jim Kolbe said Tuesday he knew of e-mails that made a page "uncomfortable" and passed them on to Foley's office and the House clerk.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Kolbe went to Foley about the matter, but the Arizona Republican said in a statement Tuesday that he did not speak to Foley directly.

Kolbe's spokeswoman, Korenna Cline, has said the lawmaker learned of the correspondence in 2000 or perhaps 2001.

Kolbe was a member of the House Page Board when the e-mails were brought to his attention.

"Some time after leaving the page program, an individual I had appointed as a page contacted my office to say he had received e-mails from Rep. Foley that made him uncomfortable," Kolbe said in a written statement. (Watch how the page reportedly told Kolbe that Foley's e-mails were making him uncomfortable -- 2:42 Video)

Kolbe, who was a page for Sen. Barry Goldwater in the 1950s, said he was not shown the e-mails, and he was not told they were sexually explicit, but he passed the complaint to Foley's office and the clerk "promptly."

The clerk at the time, Jeff Trandahl, said Tuesday he will speak to investigators about Foley but will make no public comment.

"Jeff Trandahl will cooperate fully with the FBI and the House ethics committee investigations," his attorney Cono Namorato said. "At this time, Mr. Trandahl will not be airing his recollections with the media."

Trandahl, who was overseeing the page program at the time, closely monitored Foley's interaction with pages and repeatedly raised concerns about Foley to GOP leaders before 2005, which is when Republicans said they learned of the correspondences, sources said.

Trandahl resigned from his post last year.

In his statement, Kolbe said that he assumed Foley's correspondences with the teen stopped because "the former page never raised the issue again with my office."

"I believed then and believe now that this was the appropriate way to handle this incident given the information I had and the fact that the young man was no longer a page and not subject to the jurisdiction of the program," he said.

Kolbe, who plans to retire at year's end, was not available for an interview because he was overseas. His staff would not reveal his whereabouts.

Foley, a Republican who represented a Florida district for six terms, abruptly resigned September 29 as allegations surfaced that he exchanged inappropriate e-mails and sexually explicit instant messages with underage pages. (Watch how the scandal has rocked Foley's Florida district -- 1:23 Video)

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, has asked the FBI to investigate the matter and how it was handled by members of Congress, and the House ethics committee has launched an investigation.

Florida authorities also are investigating. Foley has not been charged with a crime, and it is unclear whether any laws were broken, said CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and other experts. (Full story)

"As a general observation, Foley's conduct is morally and politically a disaster, but whether it's a crime is far from clear," Toobin said.

Hastert has set up a tip line for anyone who has concerns about a page or the page program. A Democratic leadership aide said the line has received more than 400 calls. The House inspector general's office is determining whether the information should be passed on to investigators.

Asked to comment on Kolbe's statement, Hastert said confronting Foley was Kolbe's responsibility.

"I don't know anything more about it," Hastert said. "If there's something that was of a nature that should have been reported or brought forward, then he should have done that."

Hastert: Staff will be held accountable

Speaking to reporters in Aurora, Illinois, Hastert cited the numerous investigations into Foley's correspondences, saying, "If anybody's found to have hidden information or covered up information, they really should be gone." (Watch what blogs say about Hastert's fate -- 2:48 Video)

The speaker has acknowledged that his office was told in November 2005 about Foley's "overly friendly" e-mails to a 16-year-old boy, leading to a private rebuke for the Florida congressman.

He said during the news conference that he doesn't believe his staff members did anything wrong regarding the Foley matter and they handled the situation "as well as they should."

"However, you know, in 20/20 hindsight, probably you could do everything a little bit better," he said. "But if there was a problem, if there was a cover-up, then we should find that out through the investigation process. They'll be under oath, and we'll find out.

"If they did cover something up, then they should not have their jobs."

The FBI is trying to determine who knew what and when. Last week, the bureau interviewed Kirk Fordham, a former chief of staff to Foley and Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-New York. Fordham said after his resignation that he raised concerns about Foley to Hastert's office before November 2005, a claim Hastert's office has denied. (Watch how a former aide will testify -- 3:01 Video)

Fordham is scheduled to testify before the House ethics panel in the Capitol basement Thursday, said a source close to the investigation.

The FBI also interviewed former page Jordan Edmund, 21, for more than two hours Tuesday at the U.S. attorney's office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, attorney Stephen Jones said.

Jones has said previously that Edmund exchanged instant messages with Foley but had "no physical involvement" with the congressman. Edmund was a House page in 2001 and 2002 and was a minor during the correspondences, The Oklahoman newspaper reported.

"Jordan answered all of their questions, relying upon his memory as it exists," the attorney said. "He was not served with any subpoenas to appear before any grand jury. He was not asked to return."

Jones added that he plans to speak with a member of the House ethics committee Tuesday.

"I do not know the extent of their interest," he said.

CNN's Dana Bash and Andrea Koppel contributed to this report.

Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona says he indirectly warned then-Rep. Mark Foley about his communication with teen pages.



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