House Speaker Dennis Hastert and House Leader John Boehner displayed a sickening amount of arrogance when they said the search of Rep. Jefferson’s office was unconstitutional and that the documents retrieved at Rep. Jefferson’s office should be returned.
What is the color of the sky in their world? The FBI got the appropriate warrant signed by a judge. If this action were unconstitutional wouldn’t the judge have refused to sign the warrant for that reason?
Besides, as Byron York points out, the FBI officials tried several times to get the information they needed outside of getting a search warrant, but they were refused every time:
First, it should be said that prosecutors seem to have Jefferson dead to rights. They have — and have had since late last summer — more than enough evidence to justify a search of his office. In the last months, they have apparently tried other, more standard, means to try to get Jefferson to comply with requests to turn over the evidence, to no avail. There is even, in the 95-page search warrant request, a section headlined GOVERNMENT EFFORTS TO EXHAUST ALL LESSER INTRUSIVE APPROACHES TO OBTAINING RELEVANT DOCUMENTS AND RECORDS LOCATED IN THE WASHINGTON, D.C. CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE OF WILLIAM J. JEFFERSON. It is followed by several redacted paragraphs in which prosecutors apparently describe their attempts to get Jefferson to turn over information.
What did Dennis Hastert and John Boehner expect the FBI to do? Accept Rep. Jefferson’s refusal to hand over the information it needed and just ignore the entire situation?
Now, If we took Hastert’s and Boehner’s statements to their most logical conclusion, any member of congress could blatantly commit any crime in his or her office and he or she would be immune from a search. Daffydd at Big Lizards argues this point as well:
They are saying that if Marion Barry were elected to Congress, he could sit there in his congressional office, in full view of God and Man, openly smoking crack and shooting up heroin… and the FBI, the DEA, and the Capitol Police could only stand helplessly watching. So long as he kept his stash in the office, he needn’t even hide it — because Congress has a private law that says “what happens under the Dome stays under the Dome.”
Have they completely forgotten what is being investigated here? Rep. Jefferson was caught on video accepting a $100,000 bribe and $90,000 was found in his freezer*. Where’s the outrage about that?
Update: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) was on John Gibson’s Big Show on Fox News Channel trying to explain the ridiculous argument that the FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson’s office. He said it was the first time in 219 years that a congressional office was raided. So what? Just because it hasn’t happened before doesn’t mean it shouldn’t or can’t happen. He also referenced the speech and debate clause of the Consititution which says this:
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.
So where does it say in this clause that congressional offices can not be searched? As Judge Napolitano just said, this clause was put into the Constitution to prevent a president from preventing a vote that he doesn’t like from happening. Its intent is not to protect a member of Congress from a criminal investigation.
Rep. Gohmernt also said that there were priveledged documents that were at risk and that the judge should have done an in camera inspection. Lame, lame, lame.
*Correction. I originally wrote that the money was found in his office when it was actually found in his freezer. Sorry about that.