TODAY   |  November 21, 2013

Rep. Trey Radel pleads guilty to buying cocaine

Florida Congressman Trey Radel said he will take a leave of absence after pleading guilty in court to buying cocaine, a first for a U.S. Representative. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> top story today. representative trey radel, adressing his arest on a late night news conference. gabe, good morning to you.

>> reporter: matt, good morning. in that late night news conference here, congressman trey radel aapologized for his behavior, never said he was resigning, just taking a leave of absence. congressn radel's first words to constituents, i'm sorry.

>> i'm sorry. i've let down our country. i' let downur constituents. i've let down my family, including my wife and even though he doesn't know it, i've let down my two-year-old son.

>> reporter: just hours earlier the freshman law maker pleaded guilty in a washington, d.c. courtroom t. first member of congress charged with buying cocaine. the judge gave radel a year probation and plans to enter and in-person facility.

>> i will be taking a leave of absence, during that time, i will do nate my salary to a charity.

>> reporter: late last month in washington's dupont circle , the federal agency and the congress bought 3-and-a-half pound of cocaine in a sting operation some why did it take him three weeks to talk about it publicly.

>> with the delay, it was a matter of council that came to a resolution.

>> reporter: the radel is a businessman and former victory in a tough republican primary last fall. now, he's in a different spotlight.

>> you know, should we really be punishing him for this? anything that makes congress work faster, i'm all for it.

>> reporter: instead of a punch line, radel says he hopes to become a role model for people dealing with substance abecause.

>> sometimes in life, you need need a wake-up call. this is my wake-up calm. i believe in faith. i believe in forgiveness and redemption.

>> reporter: political redemption may be to you to come by in this strongly conservative arena. he is up for re-election next year and there is talk of challengers from his own party.

>> gabe, thanks so much. now,