Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Don't Bank On It
House Speaker Dennis Hastert demanded Wednesday that the FBI surrender documents it seized and remove agents involved in the weekend raid of Rep. William Jefferson's office, under what lawmakers of both parties said were unconstitutional circumstances.
"We think those materials ought to be returned," Hastert said, adding that the FBI agents involved "ought to be frozen out of that (case) just for the sake of the constitutional aspects of it."
The Saturday night search of Jefferson's office on Capitol Hill brought Democrats and Republicans together in rare election-year accord, with both parties protesting agency conduct they said violated the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine.
Republicans, meanwhile, were being careful to protest the raid without defending Jefferson, in an increasingly tense relationship with the White House over its use of executive power.
A day earlier, Hastert, R-Ill., complained personally to President Bush about raid. Other House officials have predicted that the case would bring all three branches together at the Supreme Court for a constitutional showdown.
Members of Congress must obey the law and cooperate fully with any criminal investigation; if they don’t, they will be held accountable.
Justice Department investigations must be conducted in accordance with Constitutional protections and historical precedent so that our government’s system of checks and balances is not undermined.
These Constitutional protections were not devised by our Founding Fathers to put Members above the law, but to protect the independence of the Legislative Branch and the American people from abuse of power by the Executive Branch.
Nope, sorry, this doesn't fly. Congress has fucking rolled over and abdicated its responsibilities when it comes to oversight of the Executive, war powers, advice and consent, illegal and unconstitutional spying, and NOW when one of your members is caught redhanded you declare a goddamned Constitutional crisis?
The raid is not a violation of the separation of powers. This is not an example of the out of control Executive Branch seizing authority it does not have--it is executing the law and doing its duty for a change. Methinks Congress doth protest too much in this case because of all the skeletons each member must be hiding in their freezers.
[Update: cab drollery has more.]
['nother update: Bryan has even more thoughts.]
May 24, 2006 | Permalink
I agree that if you do wrong, you need to face the consequences, no matter who you are.
At the same time, I'm enjoying these people on the Hill getting a taste of what it's like to be on the receiving end of BushCo. At best, it might possibly wake them up a bit about standing up for themselves against GDub, so they can stand up for us.
Or maybe that's just wishful thinking...
Posted by: LJ/Aquaria | May 24, 2006 5:24:56 PM
in an increasingly tense relationship with the White House over its use of executive power.
This is the issue over which the Republican Congress suddenly remembers it's a co-equal branch of government? And a Democrat at that?
Jeebus, I'd have gladly thrown Jefferson under a bus 5 years ago if it would've woken the bastards up.
Posted by: flory | May 24, 2006 7:54:20 PM
Fat Denny appears to be headed for his own troubles with the FBI. The Speaker doth protest too much, methinks. May he soon be ex-speaker and ex-congressman.
Posted by: Michael | May 24, 2006 10:47:30 PM
Hmmm...I wonder if Hastert had time to clean out his freezer?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is probing corruption in Congress, ABC News reported on Wednesday.
Posted by: Lancelot Link | May 25, 2006 7:24:18 PM
Actually, it is a violation, albeit a technical one. Had there been a representative of the legislature present at the time of the seizure, (and that could have one of a number of people, i.e. capitol police, members of the congressman's staff, etc.) it would have been completely legal and not a constitutional violation. However, although I believe the investigators were aware of this, they chose not to bother.
This then, was the overreach by the executive and the violation of the separation of powers. It was essentially a pointless violation given it could have been easily and legally done had they taken the trouble.
Then again, with this administration, it appears they never do. *sigh*
Just trying to set the record straight.
Posted by: Joe | May 26, 2006 2:43:31 PM