Way to go, Republicans in Congress!

Posted by: ST on May 24, 2006 at 9:13 am

In a year when Democrats are using the “culture of corruption” theme against Republicans, Republican leaders yesterday expressed outrage over the FBI’s ‘raid’ of Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson’s Congressional office in Washington, DC – giving the impression that they think Congress should be above the law. Brilliant.

The New York Times lead off line in their story, of course, gets it wrong:

WASHINGTON, May 23 — After years of quietly acceding to the Bush administration’s assertions of executive power, the Republican-led Congress hit a limit this weekend.

Thereby making it sound like it was Bush’s executive decision to order the search of the Congressman’s office. The ironic thing about it is that the implication in the Times piece is that the Republicans have turned a blind eye to Bush’s “abuses of power” but no more – but that’s absurd considering on the face of it this whole thing makes Congressional Republicans look like people who are advocating that that they can be above the law.

Many of the initial articles that were written on the raid talked about the normal route the Justice Dept. has taken in years past regarding allegations of Congressional wrongdoing: the Justice Dept. would issue a subpoena. Guess what happened here?

Justice Department officials said the decision to search Jefferson’s office was made in part because he refused to comply with a subpoena for documents last summer. Jefferson reported the subpoena to the House on Sept. 15, 2005.

So when a Congressman refuses to comply with a subpoena, what other options are at the Justice Dept’s disposal? Obtaining a warrant, which is perfectly legal.

Congress may have their heart in the right place here with respect to their concerns on the separation of power argument, but before they flip out like Newt Gingrich, Hastert, and others have done, they might want to learn more about what led up to this before they start making sweeping assertions about this being a violation of separation of powers.

More: Gateway Pundit is on the same page:

Could there have been… any reaction that would have been more damaging to the Republican Party, President Bush, the Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate, than Dennis Hastert’s response yesterday to the news of Rep. William Jefferson’s outrageous freezer-foil bribery scandal?

Could there have been… anything that would have helped the Democratic Party more than Dennis Hastert’s response to the news of Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) outrageous freezer-foil bribery scandal?

Could there have been… anything that the democratic media would have rather heard than Dennis Hastert’s response to the news of Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) outrageous freezer-foil bribery scandal?

Could there have been… anything that would have played better into the Democratic mantra of a corrupt and executive power-abusing Bush White House more than Dennis Hastert’s response to the news of Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) outrageous freezer-foil bribery scandal?

Dan Riehl says: Enough With The Repologists

Others blogging about this: Captain Ed, Dafydd at Big Lizards, AJ Strata, Orin Kerr, Joe Gandelman, Outside The Beltway, Danny Carlton — alias “Jack Lewis”, John Hawkins

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  • 28 Responses to “Way to go, Republicans in Congress!”

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    1. James E. Griffin says:

      Eyes on the long term. What we want is for Jefferson to be held accountable, not to get off on a technicality.

      The congressional response has to do with how co-equal branches of government deal with each other. The House has a Sergeant at Arms. The FBI should have gone to THAT office – it’s a certified LEO – and together the FBI and Sergeant at Arms take the office in question apart. Yes, Hastert has a tin ear on this, but he’s not talking about the underlying crime, he’s talking about procedure.

      Legislatures around the country have their own rules and procedures – dating back to the colonial period and beyond – that have force of law. Yes, it can get arcane. And that was evidently what Jefferson was depending on.

      Jefferson evidently believed his congressional offices were immune to a DOJ search. He forgot, or did not know, that the House Sergeant at Arms is a certified LEO – he sits on the Capital Police board! Had the FBI taken an extra step and had the warrant served by both FBI and the House Sergeant at Arms office, there’d be no question of a legal search and separation of powers.

      How annoying would it be for Jefferson’s lawyer to get evidence thrown out of court based on that technicality? Hopefully, a judge wouldn’t fall for that, but judges have made annoying decisions before.

      Again, what we want is for Jefferson to be held accountable. We don’t want criminality to be obscured by an error in police procedure.

      >From the website: http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/politics/legbranc/abtcong.htm

      > The Sergeant at Arms maintains the order of the House under the direction of the Speaker and is the keeper of the Mace. As a member of the U.S. Capitol Police Board, the Sergeant at Arms is the chief law enforcement officer for the House and serves as Board Chairman each even year. The ceremonial and protocol duties parallel those of the Senate Sergeant at Arms and include arranging the inauguration of the President of the United States, Joint Sessions of Congress, visits to the House of heads of state, and funerals of Members of Congress. The Sergeant at Arms enforces the rules relating to the privileges of the Hall of the House, including admission to the galleries.

    2. – He’ll probably be fine in court, as long as the judge doesn’t ask him to empty his socks.

      – Bang **==

    3. Pam says:

      James, you bring up good points, but I do not believe that there will be anything thrown out on technicallity. Orinn Kerr, cited by ST, has some of the best legal coverage out there. In this case, he lives up to him impeccable reputation.

      I think that Hassert is trying to make a statement that is important, but misguided. As Orinn points out, they could have passed a law preventing this, but they didn’t. They still can. I understand the premise of Hasserts anger, Congresspeople have classified, etc., documents in their offices. But where he lost me is when he somehow feels this is an abuse of power on the part of the executive branch…it was clearly a case of abuse of power on the part of Congressman Jefferson.

    4. G-Monster says:

      I think the FBI did the right thing. If you remember recently the capitol police have been shut down twice by the powers that be in congress. They were stopped from from arresting McKinney for assault, and stopped from arresting Kennedy for drunk driving. My guess is if the FBI let the Seargent of Arms do the job, they would have been hamstrung also.

    5. G-Monster says:

      Looks to me like Jefferson is a crook with a capital C. Why are the dems in an uproar? Are they worried about thier offices getting raided? The republicans were smart enough to seperate themselves from Cunningham, I reccomend the dems do something smart for once, and seperate themselves from Jefferson.

    6. stoo says:

      Byron York details the extensive steps taken to collect evidence in the case here:

      http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MGY2MTMxNjZhMGRmNDU5MDZhMWIyNWNhNzJhNDFhNzY=

      And Andrew McCarthy debunks the separation of powers claim here:

      http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZWEyZDdmZGU0YTFkMWI5NDQzMTQ2MGYzM2QzZTUxMjk=

      Two very good reads. Would that Hastert had done so.

    7. James E. Griffin says:

      Folks, I agree Hastert could be a better communicator. Do I wish he had the image, issues and abilities of a Ronald Reagan? Yes, but I work with what I got. And the supply of Reagans is severly limited.

      I’m also reminded of the case of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. On video tape, commiting a felony. He serves prison time. After he gets out, he’s reelected by D.C. voters TWICE!

      I don’t want Jefferson to game the system that way. I want him removed from office forever and then to serve jail time.

      About the Capital Police: A personal friend of mine, now retired, on 9-11 was a private first class, Capitol Police. With the twin towers hit, and the Pentagon in flames, flight 93 is still in the air. The Capital building is being evacuated, and my friend – Capital Police – stood his post guarding a door and did not leave. As was his duty.

      He knew full well he might have died in another attack, and he could have ran. He did not. He stood his post, as required.

      There are some dunces in Capital Police, as in any organization, but the vast majority of Capital Police are sound.

    8. Doug says:

      Jefferson is a victim! Of his own greed! Public service is a public trust. Using his position to accept bribes is not only a violation of law, but of that trust. The Democrats will not rally around him as they have others, as he commited the cardinal political sin: He Got Caught. How many of those serving in Washington OR state offices fully deserve our trust? How many like Jefferson will continue to abuse our country until they are caught or retire with a whopping pension? Politics shouldn’t stink. We shouldn’t have to hold our noses as we vote for the least objectionable candidate.
      If we the people wish to exercise any control over the Hydra-many headed beast called government…
      Term limits.Term limits.Term limits.

    9. – FOX is reporting that Nancy Pelosi has sent a letter to Jefferson asking for his immediate resignation. Jeffersons reply is reported to have been a respectful decline.

      – In the mean time Hastert continues to follow the “I don’t even know the laws of our land” nonsense, calling for the FBI to return all of the confenscated materials from Jeffersons office and punish the FBI agents involved in the raid.

      – Think about that people. These are the so called “experts” that represent us acting in a buffoonish way. What else are they hiding in their desks?

      – No Mr. Hastert. Being a Senator does not put you above the law.

      – Someone on his staff should pull him aside and read the law too him before he makes any bigger of a fool of himself.

      – For once in her life Pelosi seems to be on the right side of the issue. Of course what else can they do now that they’ve made such a loud and long winded campaign in the “Culture of corruption” meme. What Hastert is up to is anybodies guess.

      – Bang **==

    10. Severian says:

      FOX is reporting that Nancy Pelosi has sent a letter to Jefferson asking for his immediate resignation. Jeffersons reply is reported to have been a respectful decline.

      Hmm…”Up your Ho” is a respectful decline? :d

    11. Severian says:

      er, yours

    12. Lorica says:

      Damned if ya do, and Damned if ya don’t. GW doesn’t get a warrant, and he is lionized as a criminal with a run away out of control executive. GW gets a warrant, and he is demogued as disrespectful with a run away out of control executive.

      Please Republicans, stop acting like children and get on the same page with the rest of the party. It is time to clean house, and the Senate, and House are the first place that is needs to be cleaned. Stop trying to force idiot agenda items down our throat. It is time to start voting out these fools, and get some real conservatives in office. Peace – Lorica

    13. forest hunter says:

      What in the world is happening to our Republican brothers in DC? Is there something in the water causing them to forget why we voted for them?

      Hastert, Hastert, Hastert……..(shaking my head in disbelief)

    14. Baklava says:

      Lies should be left to the left. Due diligence and facts should be left to conservatives.

      If at every opportunity “Republicans” want to not act conservative and be knee-jerk reactionary and “feeling” liberals then we need to let them know they are failing as badly as Democrats.

    15. PCD says:

      Why have an Ethics committee? They do nothing and the real crooks like Jefferson stay in Congress with their hands in every pocket they can find.

      Pelosi is a joke. Why is she asking for just Jefferson’s resignation? Why not McKinney’s? Why not McDermott’s?

    16. Severian says:

      The reports I’ve seen said that the FBI originally attempted to get the evidence seized by asking the Capitol Hill Police to do it, and they flat out refused and stonewalled them. Considering the probability that the Hill cops might well, particularly the managers who are hyper political, let Jefferson know he was in jeopardy, I can hardly see how the FBI could do anything else but raid the office with a legal search warrant.

      Hastert and the others should shut their traps, man, how out of touch are they? Congress should have to abide by the same laws we do, their making a Constitutional issue out of this is not going to play well, and is probably incorrect anyway. Unless they, all of them, are so guilty they are scared to death of a similar thing happening to them.

      While we’re on the subject of treating Congress the same as us, let’s make them rely on Social Insecurity just like the rest of us, instead of their cherry picked retirement plan. I bet if their retirement “golden years” were dependent on a basket case Ponzi scheme like SS, they’d be a LOT more serious about fixing it.

      Let’s make them pass random drug tests too. They are so hot on that being done to the rest of us. If drugs are so bad that someone can’t be allowed to make hamburgers at the drive thru without a drug test, they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to make laws and get classified briefings without them.

    17. Severian says:

      Hastert and the others are wailing about “seperation of powers” between the legislative and executive branches, as if this were a coup attempt by the executive branch. What he and the others neglect to consider is that this was not just a raid based on the executive branch (the Justice Department is part of the executive branch), the judicial branch had to review the request for a warrant and approve it, so this was something that passed executive and judicial branch review.

      Being in the legislative branch does not give anyone freedom from being arrested for wrong doing, it’s not diplomatic immunity or a get out of jail free card.

    18. andrew says:

      “Being in the legislative branch does not give anyone freedom from being arrested for wrong doing, it’s not diplomatic immunity or a get out of jail free card.”

      I wonder what Hastert’s abramoff connections are. I hope the dems drop jefferson and run on the difference between them and the GOP: the gop rallies around its corruption. The dems drop it.

    19. Pam says:

      Severian, I think this is the appropriate quote of the day!

      “We have a great deal of respect for the Congress as a coequal branch of government.”

      – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Source: The Associated Press.

    20. Pam says:

      Andrew- It seems Hassert has problems of his own!

      SPEAKER HASSERT IN ‘THE MIX’ OF BRIBE PROBE

      The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from senior U.S. law enforcement officials.

    21. stoo says:

      Oh, no he isn’t! ;)

      http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=aiGNp04DLQoY

      DOJ is demanding a retraction from ABC, who apparently got ahead of the news cycle, like that Leopold knucklehead reporting that Rove had been indicted over at Truthout.

    22. Mwalimu Daudi says:

      I hope the dems drop jefferson and run on the difference between them and the GOP: the gop rallies around its corruption. The dems drop it.

      Like the way Democrats dropped the other William Jefferson – Clinton, that is? Or their resident cop-beater Cynthia McKinney? Or the amateur spy Rep. Jim McDermott? Or Sen. Ted “Chappaquiddick” Kennedy (I have heard about “dumping” a girl, but wow)? Or the Grand Wizard Robert Byrd? Or Rep. Patrick “Wallbanger” Kennedy? Glad to hear the Democrats have dumped them!

    23. Severian says:

      Mwalimu, you rock!=d>

    24. Doug says:

      Mwalimu Daudi, you’ve given me an idea! Since the Republicans are acting like Democrats…Bush should switch partys! Let loose the inner-Democrat he’s been hiding for six years, Get to the Left of every Liberal who’s hated him and start getting busy with the very Democratic Congress! Foul up the country so badly as a Democrat that the Republicans could run anyone, even Hillary in 2008 and still win. One thing I would wish would be to have cameras trained on Pelosi, Clintons, Al Franken and Ted Kennedy when President Bush makes his surprize announcement. :)>-

    25. forest hunter says:

      Sev, your 6:12 post; I’ve asked and got no answers on that/those issues, maybe a couple months ago. I still think it ought to be mandatory for the lot.

      =d>^:)^ MD: Not just a mini disc anymore.

    26. G-Monster says:

      Attention James Griffin: I am not saying the capitol police aren’t a good police force. I am saying they are controlled by the members of congress, by 2 simple facts. When McKinney was about to be arrested, the word came down from one of her friends, to the superiors in the capitol police not to arrest her. I am sure something similar to this happened in the Kennedy drunk driving incident. As it probably did somehow in the Chappaquidick incident. It seems the lawmakers are above the law.