Members of Congress said they were not defending any possible wrongdoing by Jefferson. But they said the constitutional principle of separation of powers had been violated.
It was the first time law enforcement authorities, acting on behalf of the executive branch of government, served a search warrant on a congressional office.
Some experts said the Justice Department appeared to be on firm legal footing. And some members of Congress began to question how the public would view the leadership’s position.
“For congressional leaders to make these self-serving arguments in the midst of serious scandals in Congress only further erodes the faith and confidence of the American people,” Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) wrote in a letter to Senate leaders.
The rationale Congress is using to demand the return of the items is flimsy at best. They say the Constitution provides them protection while performing legislative duties. It’s difficult to see how they could claim jamming $100,000 in bribe money into a freezer qualifies as a legislative duty unless of course they areÃ‚Â so corrupt they see that as part of their duty.
This was a criminal investigation. To say the FBI doesn’t have to right to search the office of a member of Congress who is under criminal investigation is attempting to make Congress above the law. Not that the FBI doesn’t sometimes abuse their power, not that investigations can’t be politically motivated, but Congress is saying you can never search our offices because we are Congress, and that is indefensible.