They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

FBI vs. Congress, Round 2

The reason that the FBI raided Jefferson's office is that he denied them those materials. According to Roll Call, "he and his legal team refused to comply with [a subpoena], citing Congressional privilege and Jefferson’s Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself."

So the larger issue here is whether members of Congress can cite Congressional privilege to rebuff a federal investigation. And although Pelosi and Hastert seem to take it for granted that the law is on their side on this, the legal consensus (certainly not unanimous) is that it's not. As one constitutional scholar put it to The Washington Post, law enforcement never searched a lawmaker's office before as a matter of tradition: "It's really a matter of etiquette.... I don't see any constitutional principle here."

So it seems extremely unlikely that Justice Department negotiators will give very much in the negotiations: they stand a good chance of prevailing in the courts, and any ground they give now may adversely affect future investigations.

Bush's truce, in short, has managed only to temporarily placate Congress and seriously irk officials at the DoJ and FBI.

My prediction: this is a fight that's going to go on for a long time.

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