Some lawmakers are warning of a voter backlash against members of Congress "trying to protect their own" if party leaders keep escalating a constitutional dispute over the FBI's raid of a representative's office.
Yet not long after House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded on Wednesday the bureau return documents it took, White House aides were in talks with Hastert's staff about the possible transfer of the material, perhaps to the House ethics committee, according to several Republican officials. [See article below for latest.] ...
The confrontational approach by Hastert, R-Ill., and Pelosi, D-Calif., did not sit well with some colleagues.
"Criticizing the executive and judicial branches of our government for fully investigating a member of Congress suspected of criminal wrongdoing sends the wrong message and reflects poorly upon all of Congress," Rep. Barbara Cubin (news, bio, voting record), R-Wyo., said in a statement. "They should not expect their congressional offices to be treated as a safe haven."
A GOP colleague, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, said the public "will come to one conclusion: that congressional leaders are trying to protect their own from valid investigations."
While some lawmakers contended the executive branch overstepped its authority, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada has declined to condemn the search.
"I'm not going to beat up on the FBI," said Reid, a frequent critic of the White House's use of executive power.
Their voices were in the minority on Capitol Hill in the wake of the 15-hour search during which agents collected evidence against Jefferson, an eight-term Democrat.
Historians said it was the first such search of a congressman's quarters in the more than two centuries since the first Congress convened.
Meanwhile, from CNN: Bush orders documents seized in Capitol Hill search sealed.
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 taken last weekend from the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, and that they remain in the custody of the solicitor general.
Bush's move was described as an attempt to cool off a heated confrontation between his administration and leaders of the House and Senate.
(This cartoon was based on a suggestion by David Walz.)
Posted by Forkum at May 25, 2006 04:35 PM