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Reply #37: Dean also dissects Gonzales' actions in raiding Jefferson's Congressional office. [View All]

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seafan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-18-07 08:56 AM
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37. Dean also dissects Gonzales' actions in raiding Jefferson's Congressional office.
In May 2006, Gonzales gave the go-ahead to the FBI to raid a Congressional office (Louisiana Congressman William J. Jefferson) under a search warrant. Notwithstanding many previous Justice Department criminal investigations of members of Congress, never before -- in over 200 years -- had there been such a tactic employed by an Attorney General.

Rather, longstanding procedures govern what occurs when the Justice Department is seeking documents from a member of Congress, and they most certainly do not include a raid. Yet Gonzales a man with no Washington experience before coming to town with George W. Bush and apparently little common sense, ignored those procedures, and the important separation-of-powers concerns that lie behind them. Despite the respect due from one branch to another, he treated a Congressman like a common criminal.

The result has been that Gonzales has tied his own Department's investigation into knots, because he did not understand what he was doing. On May 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard arguments in the case of Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2133 v. United States, the ongoing appeal emanating from the raid.


"The Justice Department was wrong to seize records from Congressman Jefferson's office in violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers, the speech or debate clause of the Constitution, and the practice of the last 219 years," Mr. Hastert and Ms. Pelosi declared. It is possibly the only thing that they have ever agreed upon, and their colleagues on both sides of the House were with them.


What will happen when Congress loses in Rayburn House Office Building vs. United States - which I believe they will? It's very likely they will enact into law the informal understanding on this matter that has existed for over two hundred years. These are the kind of problems that are better left to the tradition of informal resolution, but Gonzales's actions have precluded that option in the future.

This longstanding tradition was described by former Solicitor and Deputy General Counsel of the House form 1984 to 1995, Charles Tiefer, -- now a University of Baltimore law professor -- when he testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Professor Tiefer explained a number of investigations undertaken by the Justice Department of members of Congress (he mentioned a half dozen members, as well as the ABSCAM sting by the FBI). However, he also noted the Gonzales raid "had all the elements of unconstitutional executive intimidation. It breached a previously sacrosanct constitutional tradition without a showing of unique necessity." He said it ignored "the House's protocols," because, among other things, it was preceded by "no prior notice to the House leadership, nor any kind of consent of consultation."

Members and Leaders of both parties have expressed a determination to codify these procedures, in order to protect the separation of powers, lest the executive branch treat its co-equal as less than what it is. Thus, Gonzales's approval of this raid, in the end and ironically, has provoked a battle that the Justice Department will lose. In the future it will be much more difficult to get the institutional cooperation of Congress with such investigations. This will hurt the government because it will hamper the Justice Department and not make the Congress look good. But Congress must protect the separation of powers which Gonzales has simply ignored.

This is another stunning example of a Bush appointee who, when he served as WH Counsel, mocked and undermined the authority of the critically ill AG Ashcroft.

Now, this same carnivorous appointee IS the AG.

People who despise and denigrate the government of The People of the United States should never be allowed to run it.

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