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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