Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is reported to have told the White House that he, along with his deputy and FBI Director Robert Mueller, would resign rather than return the documents seized in the FBI search of the Capitol office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA).
Administration officials said [Friday] that the specter of top-level resignations or firings at Justice and the FBI was a crucial turning point in the standoff, helping persuade President Bush to announce a cease-fire on Thursday. Bush ordered that the Jefferson materials be sealed for 45 days while Justice officials and House lawmakers work out their differences, while also making it clear that he expected the case against Jefferson to proceed.
The talk of resignations adds another dramatic element to the remarkable tug of war that has played out since last Saturday night, when about 15 FBI agents executed a search warrant on Jefferson’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building.
The raid — the first physical FBI search of a congressman’s office in U.S. history — sparked an uproar in the House, where Hastert joined Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in demanding that the records be returned because they viewed the search as an illegal violation of the constitutional separation of powers.
The Republicans have gotten so wrapped up in covering their own asses in the name of separation of powers that they are once again capable of attention-deficit disorder on a massive scale. (Someone commented yesterday that the false alarm about gunfire in a Capitol Hill garage was just the sound of the Republicans shooting themselves in the foot again.) They’re forgetting about the subject of the investigation itself.
You have to think that Mr. Jefferson is getting a big kick out of all of this. If he ever goes to trial — and that’s a big if right now — he will have plenty of grounds for motions to get the evidence tossed, and that’s going to go as high as the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, one of his aides has been sent up the river for eight years.
I used to think that it was a huge waste of time and money to have all these internal squabbles between the House and the White House, and I bemoaned the fact that nothing in the way of the peoples’ work was getting done. However, seeing the results of the latest efforts by the lawmakers in Washington, i.e. an immigration bill that can’t make up its mind if it’s offering a helping hand to undocumented workers or a mass deportation that would put Eichmann to shame, not to mention the piling on of more tax cuts and other garbage that’s come out of the legislature, I’m kind of glad they’re not hard at work screwing up the peoples’ business.