WASHINGTON - The officer who arrested Senator Larry Craig in a police undercover operation in an airport men's room accused the senator of lying to him during an interrogation afterward, according to an audiotape of the arrest.
On the tape, released yesterday by Minneapolis Airport Police, the Idaho Republican senator, in turn, accuses the officer of soliciting him for sex.
"I'm not gay. I don't do these kinds of things," Craig told Sergeant Dave Karsnia minutes after the two men met in a men's room at the airport on June 11.
"You shouldn't be out to entrap people," Craig told the officer. "I don't want you to take me to jail."
Karsnia replied that Craig wouldn't be going to jail as long as he cooperated.
The two men disagreed about virtually everything that had occurred minutes earlier, including whether there was a piece of paper on the floor of the stall and the meaning of the senator's hand gestures.
At no time did Craig acknowledge doing anything wrong, although weeks later he pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
"You're not being truthful with me. I'm kind of disappointed in you, Senator," Karsnia told Craig during the interrogation.
Meanwhile, more of Craig's Republican colleagues moved away from him yesterday following his guilty plea.
Senator John Ensign of Nevada, who chairs the GOP's senatorial campaign committee, stopped short of calling on Craig to resign, but suggested strongly that he should.
"I wouldn't put myself hopefully in that kind of position, but if I was in a position like that, that's what I would do," Ensign said in his home state. "He's going to have to answer that for himself."
Republican Senators Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Susan M. Collins of Maine each turned over to charity the $2,500 campaign donations they had received from Craig's political action committee. Coleman and Collins both face potentially tough races for reelection next year.
Coleman and several other Republicans, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, have called for Craig to resign his seat in the Senate. Craig has agreed to a request by Republican leaders to give up his ranking status on the Veterans Affairs Committee and appropriations subcommittees.