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Pelosi Nixes Hastings Bid for Key Post

House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi has told Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings that he will not be the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the two Democrats announced Tuesday.

"I have been informed by the speaker-elect that I will not serve as the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the 110th Congress. I am obviously disappointed with this decision. As we learn in Ecclesiastes, however, for everything there is a season," he said in a press statement.

"Congressman Alcee Hastings and I have had extensive consultations, and today I advised him that I would select someone else as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Alcee Hastings has always placed national security as his highest priority. He has served our country well, and I have full confidence that he will continue to do so," Pelosi said in a separate release.

No schedule has been set for Pelosi to name a chairman to the panel responsible for oversight of NSA warrantless wiretapping, leaks of classified information and the intelligence community's efforts to combat terror. The position must be filled by Jan. 4, 2007, when the 110th Congress convenes.

Texas Rep. Silvestre Reyes is the most-often mentioned candidate for the post. He is next in line after Hastings. Rep. Jane Harman of California, the current ranking member of the panel, could be reappointed by Pelosi, but the two are believed to have deep personal differences

Hastings said he will support the next committee chairman because "national security is far more important than my professional security." He added that free of the chairman's responsibilities, he will "be seeking better and bigger opportunities" when Democrats take over the House majority.

"This institution is organic. Many opportunities are ever-present and changing. ... I look forward to working with our new speaker of the House and all of my colleagues to see that we do this at once," Hastings said, adding in a veiled reference to pundits he said were out to get him: "Sorry, haters, God is not finished with me yet."

In comments over the weekend, Hastings left the impression he was resigned to not receiving the chairmanship from Pelosi, due in large measure to his impeachment from the federal bench in 1989 relating to a FBI bribery sting involving two convicted racketeers. He was acquitted in the criminal trial, but then was impeached in the Senate and removed from his post for fabricating the evidence that secured his acquittal.

Hastings, who will be serving his eighth term beginning next year, had public support from many quarters, including from the Congressional Black Caucus and Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who will lead the Financial Services Committee next session.

Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., head of the CBC said Hastings' statement showed why he had the support of the black members of Congress.

"The statement issued by Rep. Hastings ... reflects the qualities for which the Congressional Black Caucus so strongly supported him to be the next chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence -- an unequivocal commitment to our nation's security, selflessness and true statesmanship. He would have made an outstanding Intelligence Chairman and we still hope he will at some point in our nation's future," Watt said.

In a letter to the House Democratic Caucus last week, Hastings wrote that he requested to meet with Pelosi to argue that his being impeached should be irrelevant to his becoming the next intelligence panel chairman.

"Recently, I asked our Speaker-elect to set aside 45 minutes to meet with me and Professor Terrance Anderson of the University of Miami. Terry is the most informed person in the world regarding my trial in U.S. District Court, the 3 ½ year investigation by the five-judge 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the 26 judge Judicial Conference, the seven person impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives, the 12 person U.S. Senate trial, and the numerous appeals to courts at every level," Hastings wrote.

The two met with Pelosi for about 70 minutes on Tuesday, with Anderson making the case, but Pelosi made clear she has other plans.

FOX News' Major Garrett and Molly Hooper contributed to this report.

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