The Jefferson Raid.
In case you're not following it, the FBI raid on William Jefferson's office has produced some amazing reaction. Yesterday I mused about how the government, despite GOP "streamlining" through K Street, does actually have a pretty sturdy structure for ensuring balance in power. As an example, look at how Republican leaders in Congress have responded:
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) complained directly to President Bush yesterday about the FBI raid, while House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted a constitutional showdown before the Supreme Court.The Times picks up the narrative:
A court challenge would place all three branches of government in the fray over whether the obscure "speech and debate" clause of the Constitution, which offers some legal immunity for lawmakers in the conduct of their official duties, could be interpreted to prohibit a search by the executive branch on Congressional property.
Lawmakers and outside analysts said that while the execution of a warrant on a Congressional office might be surprising — this appears to be the first time it has happened — it fit the Bush administration's pattern of asserting broad executive authority, sometimes at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches.
Holy crap. As you would predict, the blogosphere is finding this rather provocative. I'll update this post in a moment with some of the chatter I'm seeing.
I don't know how many people read these compilations I do, but these are worth a look--insightful stuff here.
Laura Rozen: "If [Congressional leaders] concerned about alleged FBI overreach, they can haul in to testify not just FBI director Mueller, but his boss Alberto Gonzales. So what is really going on here? Perhaps a shot across the bow? Or is it panic?"
John Cole: "BWAHAHAHA. Considering the only common theme among Bush’s three nominations to the Supreme Court has been a complete and total deference to executive authority, and in Harriet’s case, a total deference to Bush, the individual, I am willing to bet this is a fight the Bush administration does not mind taking to the Supremes."
Captain Ed: "Hastert and Boehner had better reconsider this fight. Not only is it a loser legally, but it's also political suicide. They shouldn't need the Supreme Court to laugh them into oblivion to comprehend the magnitude of this mistake." [The righties for the most part are jumping on the Bush bandwagon--ignoring the implications the raid has for the Bob Neys of the world.]
TAPPED: "When push comes to shove in separation of powers cases, the executive always has the preponderance of power on its side. The only way to maintain the privileges of the Congress is for public opinion to support Congress. That's simply not going to happen in this instance because Hastert and the rest of the leadership have made it eminently clear that they're not going to keep corruption in check if left to their own devices." (Matt Yglesias)
Attaturk: "But to see the GOP step up to the plate to whine about the Constitution applying to the whole lot of Congress (again, this was after the execution of a search warrant) and the rest of us not even deserving notice that our privacy is being violated by the Government is the true outrage."