Saturday, May 27, 2006

BITING DOWN HARD -- "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."

It looks like the DOJ triumverate just went all in. It seems like a stretch to think this is a bluff, which suggests that there is something more to the Jefferson investigation than a single, $100,000 bribe.

WaPo's story here.

Interesting analysis (sub. req.) by Prof. Turner at UVa law. Based on a reading of the Speech and Debate Clause, as well as Brewster, the question seems to turn on what evidence was specified in the warrant application and what was actually seized. If evidence of a felony is in bounds, and bribery is a felony, then it would seem that evidence of the actual bribe would be constitutionally susceptible to search and seizure.

On the other hand, the bribe was taken in exchange for an official act, right? Well, one has to wonder whether evidence of the official act is constitutionally susceptible to search and seizure under the Speech and Debate Clause as well as Brewster. Read both authorities carefully, I think it is a little ambiguous. The counterargument is that regardless whether the evidence is of an official act, if it is also evidence of a bribe, it falls within Brewster.

The fact that it was a Congressional office does not, by itself, change the analysis from what I can tell.