Wouldn't you know it. Where there's a corruption investigation, there's also the Solomonic wisdom of Dick Cheney. And so it went with the William Jefferson affair, according to part three
of Bart Gellman and Jo Becker's Cheney series. Had Cheney not changed his mind on the FBI's power to seize Jefferson's files, the top tier of Justice Department and FBI officials would have quit.
In May 2006, the FBI executed a warrant on Jefferson's House office, seizing numerous documents relevant to its bribery investigation. House Republicans -- and, let's not forget, now-Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- demanded
the FBI relinquish what they'd taken from Jefferson, fearing the precedent the raid would set for other members of Congress and elevating the dispute to a separation of powers issue.
According to Gellman and Becker, Cheney sided with Congress, one of the few times that he's done so since joining the executive ... er, since becoming vice president. And, as the series has demonstrated, Cheney more often than not gets his way with the administration. This time, however, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, his deputy Paul McNulty, and FBI Director Robert Mueller all threatened to resign
if forced to return Jefferson's files.
Here's what happened next:
White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten called a meeting on May 25, 2006, to resolve the political and legal crisis. The president's lawyers and congressional liaison were in the room, and so was Cheney. Once again, it was the vice president who came up with a solution, according to a participant. Cheney's plan met his goal of keeping the files from federal investigators. The files would be placed under seal for 45 days. Within hours of the meeting, Bush made Cheney's recommendation official.
The irresistible question: has Cheney inserted himself in the investigation of any other
high-profile corruption scandals?