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Alex Constantine - June 24, 2009

From NBC's Chuck Todd, Ken Strickland and Domenico Montanaro
June 16, 2009

Republicans on Capitol Hill have been told that Nevada Sen. John Ensign will admit to an extramarital affair at his news conference at 6:30 pm ET in Nevada, according to Capitol Hill sources.

NBC News has confirmed that Ensign told other senators earlier today that the reason he decided to go public about the affair is that his ex-mistress was indeed trying to extort money out of him. It's not clear if Ensign will make mention of this at the presser but it is what he's privately telling senators, according to Capitol Hill sources.

Per the Washington Post's Cillizza, who first reported the news, Ensign said in a statement: "I deeply regret and am very sorry for my actions."

Cillizza also reports that the affair "was with a woman who worked for both Ensign's re-election campaign and his Battle Born leadership political action committee," that it "began in December 2007 and ended in August 2008. Ensign's wife, Darlene, said that the couple's 'marriage has become stronger' and added: 'I love my husband.'"

Politico reported, per a Nevada political insider, "that Ensign began an affair with a staffer several months after he separated from his wife. When Ensign reconciled with his wife, the source said, he gave the aide a severance package and parted ways. Sometime later, the source said, Ensign met with the husband of the woman involved and had what this source described as a positive encounter. But the source said that the man subsequently asked Ensign for a substantial sum of money -- at which point Ensign decided to make the affair public."


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