Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Why the GOP agrees with William Jefferson (D., LA)

The Hill notes the GOP's misgivings of the weekend search:
Republicans should have been elated in the days after the FBI raided the Capitol Hill office of Democratic Rep. William Jefferson (La.), but instead some were bristling, suggesting that the first-time-ever search of a sitting congressman’s office may violate the constitutional separation of powers.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) told a wire service yesterday that he was “very concerned” about the constitutionality of the search and had queried the Senate legal counsel to look into it.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) sent an e-mail to Capitol Hill Republicans on Sunday night decrying the FBI’s actions.

“What happened Saturday night ... is the most blatant violation of the Constitutional Separation of Powers in my lifetime,” Gingrich fumed, after having seen news of the search on CNN. “The President should respond accordingly and should discipline (probably fire) whoever exhibited this extraordinary violation. ... As a former Speaker of the House, I am shaken by this abuse of power.”

The comments showed that congressional Republicans were more concerned about possible infringement on the authority of the legislative branch than on fueling the flames now circulating around Jefferson.

The raid of Jefferson’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building is the latest in a string of FBI searches conducted in the Jefferson investigation. The FBI executed search warrants on Jefferson’s homes in Washington and Louisiana and his car at the Capitol in August of last year. It also raided the New Orleans office of his campaign treasurer.
In the extreme execution of executive power -- beyond the scope of the Constitution, I can think of few rivals to George W. Bush.

5 Comments:

Blogger zen said...

I'm not sure I understand. As citizen's of the U.S. are not all citizen's bound by the same laws regardless of position or status? I do not understand the conflict of having the FBI investigate a potential crime no matter if it's a private citizen or an elected representative.

It makes me curious as to the motivations of the GOP. One would think that they'd make political hay of a corrupt Democrat getting busted.
But this appears to make them nervous. Since when do they care about privacy or the rule of law?
Do they fear that if they do not stop this type of law enforcement they too soon will be served with search warrants?
This is mind-boggling.

11:24 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

I think it is worthwhile to speculate that some GOP members fear this applied to their side of the aisle. At issue here is the FBI (run by the Executive Branch) raiding an office of a sitting Congressman. I am no legal scholar, but someone is going to be grilled on this -- perhaps the A.G.

Bush has so grossly overstepped the bounds of his constitutional office, and Gonzales has been at his side all along. I hope this really fries both of them. It just might.

11:28 AM  
Blogger zen said...

What law enforcement entity, which would be capable of investigating Congress, or the WH, and is not run by the executive? Special Prosecutors (Ken Starr) are no more. Fitzgerald was actually appointed by Bush. The Justice Dept is Gonzales. Gonzales is nothing more than a tool to find ways for Bush to do as he pleases without a respect to actual law. It's shameful and embarassing.
So the GOP's reaction is even more striking. They've been a rubberstamp for Bush approving and defending every policy from war, to torture, to invasion of privacy. What then inspires the kind of backlash that we're now seeing?
Is it that "this time it's personal"? Fine to screw with other people, but now it's too close to home.
Is it political? Now Bush is perceived as a liability, this is the wedge issue to distance themselves before the November elections?

LOL...I guess it just become very difficult to believe that the GOP in Congress would now suddenly stand up against a presidential power grab out of principle alone.

12:28 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

You raise a bunch of great questions. Their reaction is very interesting.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Capitol Police is the statutorily establishe law eforcement body for the Legislative Branch. They have juristiction over all Congressional buildings and grounds.

A lot of GOP Congressmen felt that the Capitoal Police should have been asked to conduct the search, or at the very least have been notified of it.

3:40 PM  

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