Hastert deadline passes, suggesting plea deal may be near

CHICAGO (AP) — A deadline for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s lawyers to file pretrial paperwork has passed without the attorneys submitting any new documents.

Legal observers say that strongly suggests the prosecution and defense are making progress on a plea deal in the federal hush-money case.

Former U.S. prosecutor Jeff Cramer says the passing of the deadline means Hastert’s lawyers must be confident that there is not going to be a trial.

Hastert has pleaded not guilty to lying to investigators and skirting banking laws in his efforts to pay $3.5 million to keep an unidentified person silent about unspecified prior misconduct by the Illinois Republican.

Avoiding trial could mean his conduct never comes to light.

The next status hearing is Thursday.