Facing mounting pressure and a Senate ethics investigation launched by his own political party after an embarrassing arrest, Sen. Larry Craig has resigned from Congress.
"It is with sadness and deep regret that I announce it is my intent to resign from the Senate effective Sept. 30," said Craig, flanked by his family, Idaho's governor and other Idaho officials. "I apologize to the people of my great state for being unable to serve a full term to which I have been elected."
The veteran Idaho Republican came under fire Aug. 27 as details of his June lewd conduct arrest in an airport restroom — and his subsequent guilty plea to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct — were made public in a Capitol Hill newspaper report.
Despite the guilty plea, Craig continued to suggest his innocence as he announced his resignation.
"I apologize for what I have caused," Craig said. "I am deeply sorry. I have little control over what people choose to believe."
Minneapolis Airport Police Sgt. Dave Karsnia arrested Craig on June 11 as part of a sting operation targeting improper sexual activity in a men's restroom. Karsnia detailed Craig's alleged attempt to solicit sex in his arrest report, stating that Craig used signals "used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct."
Craig entered a guilty plea to disorderly conduct Aug. 8.
One day after his guilty plea made national headlines, Craig addressed reporters in Boise, asserting that he "was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis airport or anywhere else" and that he only pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct "in hopes of making it go away."
Craig said of entering the plea without consulting a lawyer, "That was a mistake and I deeply regret it."
The news of Craig's arrest and plea elicited a swift response from scandal-weary Republicans, still reeling from summer episodes such as the FBI raid on the home of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and the revelation that the name of Sen. David Vitter, R-La., appeared in past phone records of an alleged prostitution ring.
The Senate's Republican leadership recommended the "incident be reported to the Senate Ethics Committee for its review" Aug. 28, one day after the incident gained media momentum. Shortly thereafter, Craig also relinquished his senior standing on Senate committees.
Additionally, Craig's Republican colleagues Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Norm Coleman of Minnesota joined Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., Aug. 29 calling for Craig's resignation, just two days after the incident first received attention.
The same day the incident first grabbed headlines, Craig stepped down from a leadership post with the presidential campaign of former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Romney immediately distanced himself from Craig, denouncing the bathroom arrest as part of a "parade of sexual misconduct in Washington, D.C." in an Aug. 28 CNBC interview.
In an audio recording of the post-arrest interview, Craig is heard denying any improper conduct, saying, "I am not gay. I don't do these kinds of things," and "I don't seek activity in bathrooms." Craig also admonished Karsnia, the arresting officer, saying, "You shouldn't be out to entrap people either."
But Karsnia did not buy Craig's denials, saying, "Well, you're not being truthful with me. I'm kinda disappointed in you, senator. I'm real disappointed in you right now."