Thursday, May 25, 2006

MORE ON THE CAPITOL OFFICE SEARCH -- House leadership wants the files back: "The constitutional clash pitting Congress against the executive branch escalated Wednesday as the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House demanded the immediate return of materials seized by federal agents when they searched the office of a House member who is under investigation in a corruption case."

WaPo thinks the leadership is overreacting: "The uproar over the FBI's search of Rep. William J. Jefferson's congressional office is understandable but overblown. A demand yesterday by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that the Justice Department return the papers it seized goes way too far. Constitutional provisions designed to protect lawmakers from fear of political retribution, such as the speech-and-debate clause, counsel restraint and caution in circumstances such as these. They do not transform congressional offices into taxpayer-funded sanctuaries."

And some members are sensing danger: "Some lawmakers are warning of a voter backlash against members of Congress "trying to protect their own" if party leaders keep escalating a constitutional dispute over the FBI's raid of a representative's office."

Meanwhile, this all might just be a breach of etiquette, rather than Constitutional prerogative: "The FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson's congressional office was an aggressive tactic that broke a long-standing political custom. But while it might violate the spirit of the Constitution, it might not violate the letter of the document or subsequent rulings by the Supreme Court, legal analysts say."

For more see Instapundit here. Reynolds also ties in the maybe/maybe not ABCNews Blotter story alleging Hastert is included in the Abramoff probe, which is detailed here.