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Congressional opposition to FBI search morphed into support for Congressman under investigation on bribery

Reported by Chrish - May 26, 2006

Somehow on The Big Story today 5/25/06, the bipartisan opposition to the FBI's search and seizure of documents from the Congressional office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) was portrayed as a rally of support for the Congressman. Host John Gibson first reported about the joint opposition but then veered off course saying "but Congress's approval ratings are even ower than Bush's, (graphic), so is it such a good idea to be 'rallying behind a guy accused of taking 100 grand in bribes, actually on tape taking 100 grand in bribes, and storing $90,000 of that money in his freezer."

Gibson had as guest Rich Lowry, National View (sic) editor and FOX News political analyst.

Gibson: I have to wonder, what is (sic) Hastert and these guys doing? I mean. the American public is screamin 'what do you mean? The guy's a crook. Of course we're going into his office.'" But as he said short moments later, he hasn't seen any polling on this and is basing his conclusions on emails he's received.

Rich Lowry repeated an apparent talking point: there's a reason Congress's approval rating is in the twenties and even lower than Bush's, but, Lowry says, they really believe what they're saying. They really believe their prerogatives have been trampled on and although they know it's not great politics for them they're doing it to protect the institution. Bush's sealing of the siezed documents amounts to a face-saving measure for Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Comment: Or it's another pre-emptive maneuver to protect Republicans involved in ongoing and upcoming investigations. In another two-fer, a Democratic Rep is humiliated and papers are siezed but the immediate outcry and solidifying of policy/legality will disallow such searches and siezures into Republican Reps offices in the future. Just a theory.

Lowry and Gibson are in agreement (with "most people" if you accept Gibson's inbox as a viable sampling) that the Justice Dept. and FBI acted properly and are dismayed that Congressional Republicans are joining with Democrats to protect their prerogatives. As Lowry says, they bicker over everything else so to show unified support on an issue that basically protects their own institution sends the wrong message to voters.

Gibson says that they (Congress) get emails, they answer theiir own phone calls, they must be getting messages from their consituents (sic), and he knows what they are saying: people think this is outrageous. Why are they digging in their heels? Lowry reiterates that it's not a good move politically or legally, but their intentions of protecting the institution are good. He adds that Congressional Republicans feel like the White House has treated them like dirt for six years and they're finally fed up and having an explosion.

Comment: Well, now they know how we feel. It's apparently OK by many of them, defensible even, for our personal information to be compiled into enormous databases and for increasing restrictions on our civil liberties, but even with a properly authorized warrant they don't want their papers and computers searched. Too little too late. They've created a monster.

In the next segment, former Judge and current Representative Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and FOX's Judge Andrew Napolitano commented on the legality and constitutionality of the matter.

Gohmert is of the view that papers in a Congressperson's office are "extra"-priveleged and should be protected from search and seizure under orders from another branch of government. Napolitano essentially says no one is above the law, and makes this analogy: if during the exercise of a proper search warrant for a crime your checkbook is siezed and evidence of another crime is found there as a result, the evidence can be used. He is saying that a Rep's office is on a par with that, and urges the Representatives to drop it: "This is the wrong dog in the wrong race for you guys to be defending. Really, Congressman."

Comment: Gohmert didn't disagree altogether with Gibson and Napolitano; he wants to see the "scumbags" removed from Congress too, but he wants a Congressional Counsel there when the Justice Dept. or FBI is removing papers to ensure that no sensitive constituent-initiated documents are removed or even seen. No Democrat or liberal voice was heard in the ten or so minutes spent on the topic.

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