While Shimkus is saying he saw the emails, his spokesman is denying it.
Just consider, Denny Hastert has repeatedly said he didn't know anything about the Foley problem until Thursday. But two members of the leadership -- Boehner and Reynolds -- say no, they warned him about it months ago. Hastert got Boehner to recant; Reynolds is sticking to his guns.
Rodney Alexander brought the matter to the Speaker's office. And Hastert's office tonight put out the results of a detailed internal review of what happened in which they revealed that no member of the House leadership -- not Hastert or Shimkus or the House Clerk -- had actually laid eyes on the emails in question.
Only Hastert's office apparently didn't touch base with Rep. Shimkus, since as Hastert's crew was writing out their statement, Shimkus was offer giving an interview to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in which he described how he and the Clerk had read the emails.
(ed.note: 2:19 AM, 10/1/06 ... What makes this even more comical is that, according to the AP "Shimkus, who avoided reporters for hours, worked out his statement with Speaker Dennis Hastert's office." Didn't seem to help.)
So the centerpiece point of the Hastert statement this evening appears to have been a fabrication.
It stood up for maybe three or four hours.
At present, the Speaker is committed to portraying himself as a sort of Speaker Magoo. We're supposed to believe that pretty much everyone in the House GOP leadership knew about this but him.
Note that there seems to be agreement that the relatively more innocuous emails were known to some people in 2005, the far more incriminating instant messages apparently weren't seen until recently. But there seems to be evidence that many people were aware that Rep. Foley's behavior was, at the very least, "gregarious and 'flaky'", with quite an interest in the House pages, for quite some time.
UPDATE (October 7, 2006): It's now long since come out that not only did Shimkus see the emails, but Foley's former chief of staff (and until a few days ago Rep. Reynolds' chief of staff), Kirk Fordham, brought this to the attention of Hastert's office years ago. See the more recent posts on my blog, including this one.