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Dennis Hastert

The monster inside the man

The monster inside the man

Last week, Dennis Hastert, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for illegally structuring cash withdrawals to avoid federal bank reporting laws. As part of his plea bargain, the government also dismissed charges that Mr. Hastert lied to agents investigating his suspicious banking practices. Sounds pretty mundane, just another victimless crime — a banking violation prosecuted in federal court. But that's the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

The case against Mr. Hastert actually involves much darker and destructive illegal conduct. It turns out that the cash withdrawals were being used by Mr. Hastert as hush money, to cover up...