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President Bush Orders Jefferson Documents Sealed

Drudge has his siren flashing on the headline that Bush ordered the documents seized from Rep. Jefferson's officed sealed for 45 days. Fox News is also reporting this as well.

This whole situation is getting screwier and screwier. I'm not sure how the president has jurisdiction, if that's the right term, to order the sealing of documents seized by the FBI with a valid search warrant signed by a federal judge. President Bush's actions sound like a violation of Separation of Powers.

The Reuters report here:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Thursday ordered records seized from Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson's office to be sealed for 45 days in order to work out a dispute over the documents with the U.S. Congress.


Leaders of the House of Representatives are outraged that the FBI seized a computer hard drive and two boxes of papers from Jefferson's office. They contend the search violated the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.

In a statement, Bush said he was taking the unusual step of directing the Justice Department to seal all the materials recovered from Jefferson's office last weekend for the next 45 days.

"This period will provide both parties more time to resolve the issues in a way that ensures that materials relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation are made available to prosecutors in a manner that respects the interests of a co-equal branch of government," Bush said.

Additional thoughts: A commenter reminds me that the Executive branch, hence President Bush, is in charge of the FBI, so he can order the sealing of the documents. I can accept that. But I still say this whole situation is still getting really screwy.

Update: Tim Chapman's point is well taken:

Republicans had better figure out this communication nightmare very quickly. I have clearly been sympathetic to the arguments about congressional prerogatives, but this is a bad move. Hastert and company need to figure out a way to get passed this and ensure that Jefferson is prosecuted to the full extent of the law in a timely fashion.


A month and a half delay will not do.

No it won't.


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Comments (31)

It's getting worse and wors... (Below threshold)
Bob Jones:

It's getting worse and worse with every day. Fricking politicians, above the law, steal our social security, let our country be invaded, and think they know how to spend the money we earn better than we do.

I'm so disgusted with both sides. You can't tell the difference any more.

It may be dumb, but Bush is... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

It may be dumb, but Bush is in charge of the FBI, so he can do whatever he wants. Clearly this thing got out of control with no one at the appropriate level paying proper attention to what was going on. It makes sense for the president to cool this off so it can calmly be resolved without the House filing with the SCOTUS for a writ of mandamus. You never know what will happen when you do that.

IF Bush comes out and says ... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

IF Bush comes out and says everybody cool off because you are all looking like losers then this might make some sense. Otherwise, I have to agree that this just makes things like more and more wierd.

Kim:The FBI is par... (Below threshold)
Radical Centrist:

Kim:

The FBI is part of the executive branch, the President is the head of the executive branch.
He can order the sealing by executive order.

I agree, I think this was a... (Below threshold)
Mikey:

I agree, I think this was a move to cool the whole thing down and start talking between DoJ and Congress on protocols. Congress is touchy about another branch stepping in on its turf (though they like to step themselves), but getting the Supreme Court involved is in the interest of neither the executive nor legislative branches.

It will be interesting to see what Congress is willing to give up in order to get a deal from Bush.

I hate to say I told you so... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I hate to say I told you so but....

This whole situation is gen... (Below threshold)
Craig:

This whole situation is genuinly scaring me. I can't help but interpret the Legislative branch as saying it's above the law. I think they're all crooked, and afraid of this new precident of accountability.

Bush is doing the right thi... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Bush is doing the right thing, imho. He's showing his hand - that he's behind the investigations and pulling strings, and that he is accepting responsibility for the corruption currently rampant on the hill.

Of course he's also disassociating his office from the corruption, and thereby protecting the throne - I mean "presidency".

I think they are all corrup... (Below threshold)
Ariya:

I think they are all corrupt bastards, and they are covering each others asses. Seems like the only reasonable answer to me.

I bet with any further digging, the FBI will find that each and every one of them should be locked up.

Jeebus Lee. Your obsession... (Below threshold)
kbiel:

Jeebus Lee. Your obsession with Bush is very unhealthy. Everything in your world leads back to Bush. Bush is your puppetmaster, tormenter and personal demon. It's that kind of obsession that allows people to talk themselves into doing something stupid, dangerous and/or evil.

I strongly suggest that you lay off the frothing Bush obsession. Get outside. See a fun movie. Enjoy a good meal. Think about cute bunnies and pretty flowers for a while. If you can't break your own obsession, I seriously suggest that you seek professional help for your own sake. No one with as strong a persecution complex as yours is healthy.

This new development serves... (Below threshold)
McCain:

This new development serves to keep Democrat corruption in the news. Not a bad result. And this really IS a fascinating constitutional issue all the way around.

Craig, the legislative branch is neither above nor below "the law." However, the consitutional problem for the justice department is that they enforce the law but they are NOT The Law. The justice department has as much right to raid Congress as the Senate judicial committee can raid the Supreme Court or the Whitehouse. What we have here is an intriguing separation of powers "crisis" that will be in the textbooks in a few years.

It is screwy. But, in rega... (Below threshold)
George:

It is screwy. But, in regard the President's powers, heck, President Bush could pardon Jefferson right here and now. He has the Constitutional ultimate authority on any prosecution.

It's purely a political mov... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

It's purely a political move, since FBI's had more than enough time to copy, photograph, and drive image anything they needed.

Hmmmm.Well well we... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Well well well.

Now we know what's required for Bush to seal something. Perhaps we can convince the FBI to raid the Mexican border.

It's purely a political ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

It's purely a political move, since FBI's had more than enough time to copy, photograph, and drive image anything they needed.

I suspect that Justice has people on the inside, watching for the shredders to be kicked into action, ready to pounce on anyone on the hill who so much thinks about covering their tracks.

This has the makings of a really big scandal. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Some airhead wrote: Jeeb... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Some airhead wrote: Jeebus Lee. Your obsession with Bush is very unhealthy. Everything in your world leads back to Bush

Go back and read the headline and body text of the post we're commenting on, and make note of how many times President Bush is mentioned - then I suggest you get outside and enjoy some fresh air.

Your obsession with me is flattering... but a bit bizarre in it's own right.

HaHaHaHa..... (Below threshold)
virgo:

HaHaHaHa..

Hmm ed, you may have someth... (Below threshold)

Hmm ed, you may have something there. But how are you gonna get the FBI to raid the National Guard?

Hmmmm.Hmm... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Hmm ed, you may have something there. But how are you gonna get the FBI to raid the National Guard?

How about a promo on timeshares in Tijuana?

As soon as the White House sees all those FBI agents crossing back over the border carrying boxes of paper ...

Man the more I read about this senate bill, the worse it looks. Has there ever been a political group that worked harder for fewer results? What on earth is going through those Republican minds? Do they really think that any of these illegals would actually vote Republican? There is absolutely zero chance of that.

The vast majority of illegals come from highly socialist countries. What we term the left, they consider to be *right*. Forty years of work shifting the country to the right is going right down the shitter and we're going to be set back to 1970.

On top of all this these new voters aren't going to give a damn about low taxes. They won't even be paying any taxes! Why the hell should they give a damn about federal taxes? Instead they'll have the incentive to side with the political party that'll give them the most entitlements. And if that party is the Republican party, then where the hell does that leave us?

What a complete mess. It's like the last 30 years just didn't happen. Fuck the GOP.

ed - you got a big amen on ... (Below threshold)
JD:

ed - you got a big amen on that, brah.

This whole situation is genuinly scaring me. I can't help but interpret the Legislative branch as saying it's above the law. I think they're all crooked, and afraid of this new precident of accountability.

Craig needs to expand his thinking. What we have here is one branch (executive) trying to assert that it is above-er the law than is the other branch (legislative) - a question which will end up before the third branch, judicial, which historically has considered itself and acted above-est the law.

Can someone get Reza Pahlavi on the phone? I could go for a nice, stable, benevolent dictatorship right about now.

Hmmm.What's even m... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

What's even more amazing to me is that this senate bill allows for the hiring of 14,000 Border Patrol agents over 5 years, ending in 2011. Excuse me but the US military can train that many soldiers in just a few months. Why does it take 5 years?

And that doesn't even cover the probable lack of enforcement.

Ed, perhaps the bill provid... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Ed, perhaps the bill provides funds for the increased border agents for only five years -- not that it will take that long to get them trained and in place (?)

I can't help but wonder how many of those aliens who are currently undocumented in this country will, after the criminal background checks etc, be hired on to guard the border. A bit of irony there eh? Our border being guarded by someone who entered the country illegally?

Heh.

Wait a minute ed, this is b... (Below threshold)

Wait a minute ed, this is brilliance on your part. We get FBI and the National Guard to buy a bunch of timeshares in Mexico, then we send all the illegals to the timeshares, giving them free room and board while they build a real wall from Galveston to San Diego at Halliburton prices. They all retire to Mexico after the wall is done, and everyone is happy!

The 45-day delay is a good ... (Below threshold)

The 45-day delay is a good way to let the whole thing die, which is what the Congress definitely should want. If taken to SCOTUS, they lose 9-0 and the Justices might just vote after hearing oral arguments. Slam dunk. "Separation of powers" does NOT give a felon a safe place to stash evidence.


The Speaker bears the blame here. He should have insisted upon compliance with the lawful subpoena, since Jefferson did not seek to challenge its validity. Instead, Hastert just caved in to Jefferson's recalcitrance. The subpoena was issued EIGHT MONTHS ago. The FBI had to do something or admit that members of Congress are immune from prosecution if they can hide the evidence on Capitol Hill. The long tradition is that the subpoenaed material is delivered via the Sergeant at Arms. The House broke the tradition, not the FBI.


Instead of being protected, Jefferson should already have been expelled. He's on video taking a $100,000 bribe. What is he going to say, he was conducting his own "sting" operation?

Yeah, that always works . . . . . .

Bush is doing the right... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:
    Bush is doing the right thing, imho. He's showing his hand - that he's behind the investigations and pulling strings, and that he is accepting responsibility for the corruption currently rampant on the hill.

Oh dear Lord ...

Am I the only one here who thinks Lee has lost his damn BDS mind ...?

How can you lose what you n... (Below threshold)

How can you lose what you never had?

This is just Bush doing a b... (Below threshold)

This is just Bush doing a big favor for the House on the eve of the Immigration conference committee.

This is also Bush threatening the House on the eve of the Immigration conference committee.

So, the moonbat pendulum ha... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

So, the moonbat pendulum has moved to the "Bush, puppet master and evil genius" extreme again, eh Lee?
How long before you swing back to "idiot man child"?

Uhm, yeah SCSI - What you s... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Uhm, yeah SCSI - What you said -- right.

Hmmmm.Ed,... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

Ed, perhaps the bill provides funds for the increased border agents for only five years -- not that it will take that long to get them trained and in place (?)

Well considering that Bush only added 210 Border Patrol officers in the whole of 2005, I'd suggest I'm not going to expect anything substantial.

I can't help but wonder how many of those aliens who are currently undocumented in this country will, after the criminal background checks etc, be hired on to guard the border. A bit of irony there eh? Our border being guarded by someone who entered the country illegally?

I checked with my lawyer and you're not legally allowed to enjoy my angst this much.

They all retire to Mexico after the wall is done, and everyone is happy!

This is giving me a headache.

I don't think I've ever read of an historical account where so many elected officials of a political party just basically gave their supporters the big middle finger.

"I checked with my lawye... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"I checked with my lawyer and you're not legally allowed to enjoy my angst this much."

I apologize ed, I realized I was being cruel as I wrote it, but it struck me as an example of the addage that often "truth is stranger than fiction." I couldn't resist.




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