Hastert Demands FBI Return Documents in Jefferson Case
House Speaker Dennis Hastert is demanding the FBI return documents from a search of a corrupt congressman’s office and take the Agents involved off the case.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert demanded Wednesday that the FBI surrender documents it seized and remove agents involved in the weekend raid of Rep. William Jefferson’s office, under what lawmakers of both parties said were unconstitutional circumstances.
“We think those materials ought to be returned,” Hastert said, adding that the FBI agents involved “ought to be frozen out of that (case) just for the sake of the constitutional aspects of it.”
While immediate ignorance on this issue would be excusable when the story broke, Hastert and his staff have now had ample time to figure out that the Constitutional argument is pure bunk. I was able to confirm that before my first cup of coffee yesterday morning.
The prospect of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is getting less scary with each passing day.
Update: Every passing minute:
Democrats, meanwhile, sought to get Jefferson to resign his seat on the House’s most prestigious panel. “In the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House Democratic Caucus, I am writing to request your immediate resignation from the Ways and Means Committee,” wrote House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in the one-sentence correspondence.
Jefferson was defiant. “With respect, I decline to do so,” he wrote back to Pelosi.”I will not give up a committee assignment that is so vital to New Orleans at this crucial time for any uncertain, long-term political strategy.”
This is in rather stark contrast to GOP rallying around Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, and others. Granted, those guys weren’t caught on video and with cash in their freezer. But still.
Meanwhile, while the White House is paying homage to Hastert’s concerns to maintain Executive-Legislative comity, the AG’s office is standing firm.
ustice Department and FBI officials yesterday vigorously defended a weekend raid on the Capitol Hill office of Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.), arguing that the unprecedented tactic was necessary because Jefferson and his attorneys had refused to comply with a subpoena for documents issued more nine months ago in a bribery investigation.
Gonzales and other officials said the search was conducted carefully to avoid trampling on the constitutional privileges accorded to members of Congress — including the use of a “filter team” of FBI agents and prosecutors not connected to the case who vetted documents to be sure nothing unrelated to the investigation or out of bounds was taken. Gonzales and the White House also said the administration had embarked on private talks with lawmakers about the issue. “We believe, of course, that we’ve been very careful, very thorough in our pursuit of criminal wrongdoing, and that’s what’s going on here,” Gonzales said. “We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the Department of Justice is doing its job in investigating criminal wrongdoing, and we have an obligation to the American people to pursue the evidence where it exists.”
One would think. Of course, Congress could censure Jefferson and render this issue moot.