The PoliBlog

The Collective
Saturday, May 27, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

The NYT (Gonzales Said He Would Quit in Raid Dispute) has a remarkable story this morning about a mass threat to resign by a number of high-ranking DoJ appointees if the President were to return the Jefferson documents to the Congress:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, and senior officials and career prosecutors at the Justice Department told associates this week that they were prepared to quit if the White House directed them to relinquish evidence seized in a bitterly disputed search of a House member’s office, government officials said Friday.

Mr. Gonzales was joined in raising the possibility of resignation by the deputy attorney general, Paul J. McNulty, the officials said. Mr. Gonzales and Mr. McNulty told associates that they had an obligation to protect evidence in a criminal case and would be unwilling to carry out any White House order to return the material to Congress.

This, the story states, is what led the President to seal the documents for 45 days so as to seek a compromise. Like I said yesterday, I am unclear on what there is to compromise over–and, indeed, it doesn’t sound like Gonzalez, Mueller and Co. are in a compromising mood (nor, btw, do I see any reason why they should be).

I concur with James Joyner’s assessment of the situation:

I’m glad to see someone had some backbone in this matter. To have thrown away evidence against a corrupt congressman obtained through a legal raid backed by a judicial warrant out of political appeasement would have been outrageous. Separation of powers or no, Congress is not above the law.

The vehemence with which the leadership has pursued this particular fight is remarkable, given that the evidence against Jefferson is growing to overwhelming proportion even before he is formally charged. To wit, a former aid of his just pleaded guilty conspiracy in helping obtain a bribe for a public official–care to guess who the public official is?

On Friday, Brent Pfeffer, a former aide to the lawmaker, was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges related to a kickback scheme involving Mr. Jefferson, identified in court documents only as “Representative A.”

Mr. Pfeffer said he was an intermediary in an effort by Mr. Jefferson to obtain money from a Kentucky telecommunications firm for help getting contracts in Nigeria.

The investigation is being handled by the United States attorney’s office in Alexandria, which until recently was headed by Mr. McNulty. He was the chief negotiator for the Justice Department in trying to reach an accommodation with the House.

Now, part of this is about jealousy over institution prerogatives–and that would explain, perhaps, the initial outburst. However, one would think that cooler heads would read the Constitution and figure out that there really is no separation of powers argument here to stand on. Still, who said that there was rationality on Capitol Hill?

One also has to wonder as to what else the Congress, especially the GOP leadership, is worry out vis-à-vis other FBI investigation.

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Filed under: US Politics, Criminal Justice | |

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    1. Attorney General And FBI Chief Considered Quitting Over Raid Evidence

      In what some have said has echoes of the Watergate crisis, the nation’s Attorney General and FBI chiefs reported threatened to quit if evidence seized in a highly contro…

      Trackback by The Moderate Voice — Saturday, May 27, 2024 @ 11:09 pm

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