Lott expected to announce resignation at noon Monday
Onetime Senate GOP leader Trent Lott is expected to announce his resignation at a noon press conference Monday, giving Republicans another open seat to defend in next year's election, according to several reports Monday.
By resigning before Jan. 1, 2008, Lott will dodge new ethics laws that would require him to wait two years before taking on a lucrative lobbying gig in Washington, NBC correspondent Kelly O'Donnell reports. And the early resignation will give the Mississippi senator more influence in who would become his successor.
A "well placed Republican source" tells the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call that Lott is not resigning because of ethics charges or illness, but because of a desire to spend more time with his grandchildren and a general distaste for Congress -- "He's fed up," the source says.
"This is a significant development because Trent Lott is a former majority leader in the Senate and has been a powerful force, high-ranking Republican and he represents another departure," O'Donnell said, noting that Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel also has announced his intention not to seek reelection in the Senate.
Lott, the senior senator from Mississippi, came under fire in 2002 for his controversial comments praising Sen. Strom Thurmond, saying the country would be better off if the then-segregationist had won his presidential bid in 1948.
O'Donnell noted that there has been some distance between Lott and the White House, which did not vigorously defend the majority leader for the comments which contributed to his losing his top spot in the Senate.
This video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast on November 26, 2007.