Where to start? How about here: House Rep. and Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Caleefornia) is facing a revolt from – surprise – the Congressional Black Caucus. Essentially, they’ve accused her of a ‘racial double standard’ of sorts on condemnation of Democratic congressmen accused of wrongdoing. Via the Hill:
Furious black lawmakers, rallying behind Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), were pulled back from the brink of open revolt against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in an emergency meeting with her Wednesday evening.
The meeting with a handful of CBC members was called after Pelosi wrote the embattled lawmaker, who is at the center of a massive bribery scandal, a curt note requesting his immediate resignation from the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
Outraged that one of its members was being picked on even though he has not been charged with a crime, the Congressional Black Caucus had intended to issue a defiant statement against their leader but agreed after the meeting to pause, at least briefly, for reflection.
Earlier this week, Pelosi approached Jefferson and told him that she thought he should resign, according to a Democratic aide. Later, at the Democratic caucus meeting yesterday morning, she took him into a side room and told him that she had prepared a letter calling on him to resign the committee seat and that she would allow him one hour to withdraw gracefully before she sent it, according to the aide. In both instances, Jefferson remained defiant.
Pelosi’s one-sentence missive to Jefferson called on him to vacate his committee seat “in the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House Democratic Caucus.”
Jefferson promptly refused, calling her request “discriminatory” and “unprecedented” and suggested that she was employing a double standard by failing to ask other lawmakers facing ethics questions to relinquish their committee assignments. Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) has come under fire for earmarks he secured through his seat on the Appropriations Committee.
Most lawmakers would not comment afterwards, but a CBC aide summed up some members’ frustration, saying, “Congresswoman Pelosi, by preemption without any legal justification, has now created a new precedent for how members are going to be treated. Unfortunately, she’s chosen to single out an African-American for this honor.”
Then the aide added an electoral threat, saying, “The African-American community, which overwhelmingly backs the Democratic Party, will not take this lightly. I hope she enjoys being minority leader.”
Raw Story is reporting some RollCall.com snippets about the CBC’s revolt against Pelosi. Stay tuned to the Congressional Black Caucus website, which I’m hoping will have a statement posted tomorrow as to their ‘official’ stance on the issue.
For those who question the validity of the Hill and RawStory links, KVOA Tucson is also reporting it.
I wonder how Pelosi feels, being the target of false allegations of racial bias? That happening, along with knowing that black support from Democrats is key to winning elections for her party, must be why she’s never chosen to confront them before. Doesn’t feel so good, does it Rep. Pelosi?
In the meantime, the President – for the sake of peace and harmony, I guess – has ordered the documents seized by the FBI to be sealed for 45 days:
President Bush stepped into the Justice Department’s constitutional confrontation with Congress on Thursday and ordered that documents seized in an FBI raid on a congressman’s office be sealed for 45 days.
The president directed that no one involved in the investigation have access to the documents under seal and that they remain in the custody of the solicitor general.
Bush’s move was described as an attempt to reach a cooling off period in a heated confrontation between his administration and leaders of the House and Senate.
“This period will provide both parties more time to resolve the issues in a way that ensures that materials relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation are made available to prosecutors in a manner that respects the interests of a coequal branch of government,” Bush said.
I don’t know what’s worse. The President ordering the records sealed or the joint statement issued by Reps. Hastert and Pelosi:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Though no one actually defended embattled Rep. William Jefferson, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi joined House Republicans on Wednesday in expressing outrage over the FBI’s recent search of the congressman’s legislative office.
Pelosi, D-California, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, released a joint statement Wednesday saying that the FBI should immediately return all documents it “unconstitutionally seized” Saturday from Jefferson’s office.
Maybe one of them will take the time on the floor of the House and explain exactly what law in the Constitution the FBI violated when they searched and seized – with a court-approved warrant – documents from Rep. Jefferson’s Congressional office this past weekend?
Cox and Forkum have a cartoon that is very apropos, all things considered.
To make matters worse, a “hearing” is scheduled for next week on the issue. Here’s more news on that, as announced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.).
Send in the clowns!
More: The WaPo, surprisingly, gets it right:
[…] But the material for which agents searched had been under subpoena for eight months; Mr. Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, resisted complying. Under those circumstances, seeking judicial approval for a search warrant is more reasonable. And while the “Saturday night raid,” as Mr. Hastert called it, sounds melodramatic, it’s less disruptive than having FBI agents in the House during normal business hours.
Mr. Jefferson was, according to the search warrant affidavit, caught with cold, hard cash: Agents videotaped him taking $100,000 in $100 bills from a Northern Virginia investor working undercover and then found $90,000 of it in his freezer. This was no fishing expedition.
Moreover, the affidavit outlines precautions prosecutors took to minimize intrusion on politically sensitive material. A team of agents not previously involved in the case were to go through records to find those listed in the warrant; then, a “filter team” of two lawyers and an FBI agent would examine the documents “to determine if they may fall within the purview of the Speech or Debate Clause privilege.” If so, those would be set aside for court review before being shared with prosecutors on the case.
(Hat tip: Gary Gross at California Conservative)
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