A confrontation between congressional leaders and the Bush administration escalated Wednesday, as House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded that the Justice Department immediately return documents that were seized when federal agents raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La.
Noting that "no person is above the law, neither the one being investigated nor those conducting the investigation," Hastert, R-Ill., and Pelosi, D-Calif., said the Justice Department must stop reviewing the documents and ensure that their contents are not divulged. Once the papers are returned, "Congressman Jefferson can and should fully cooperate with the Justice Department's efforts, consistent with his constitutional rights," the statement said.
I'm sure organized crime, drug lords and anyone committing a crime will like Hastert and Pelosi's reading of the Constitution. Police are to return all items seized via a search warrant so that those under investigation can "fully cooperate". I'm sure they will--just like illegals in the "catch and release" proceedings always return for their court date and cooperate fully.
The AP story highlights another stalwart congressional leader's take on this:
House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr.*, R-Wis., said he would hold hearings next week on the "profoundly disturbing" questions that he said the Justice Department's actions have raised.
*If I remember right, last December Congressman Sensenbrenner also thought it better to not have the Patriot Act extended at all than to have it extended for six months. He finally agreed to a one month extension.
Actually, the really disturbing question regards the prospect that these representatives will get re-elected.
However, at least one member of Congress has some sense:
"For congressional leaders to make these self-serving arguments in the midst of serious scandals in Congress only further erodes the faith and confidence of the American people," Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said in a letter to Senate leaders.
George at Alamo Nation puts it a bit more trenchantly:
Speaker Hastert, John Boehner Nancy Pelosi, William Jefferson, et. al. - You Are Not Above The Law. Per our Constitution you are "privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same." That's it. There's freaking nothing in there saying the Feds can't carry out a search warrant on Capitol Hill.
Congress - if you take bribes, then you can rot in jail. If you leak classified information to the press, then you can rot in jail. Your lack of term limits do not make you American Royalty. It would be wise to remember that. Meanwhile, Speaker Hastert has now become the poster child for the Term Limits Movement. It also exposes Newt Gingrich as part of the new 'Royal Caste.' Or at least that's how he perceives himself and Congress. Lord, I am glad Gingrich has no shot at all of getting the GOP nod for President in '08.