Hastert declares raid 'unconstitutional'
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has publicly declared the FBI
raid of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) last weekend was 'unconstitutional.'
During the raid congressional documents were seized, leading to Hastert's
assertion that the raid violated the separation of powers between the two
branches of government as defined by the Constitution. [LINK]
The raid on Rep. Jefferson's home lead to the discovery of almost $100,000
in cash – found in a freezer.
Jefferson is being investigated to see if he influenced legislation in
exchange for a number of elaborate, illegal payment schemes, including a
single cash payment of $100,000, most of which was discovered in his freezer
during a later raid of his home.
Hastert says he is only dealing with the raid on Jefferson's congressional
Republican objections are independent of any facts in the corruption probe
against Jefferson. Their complaints pertain solely to constitutional
questions about the raid itself.
The issue is not clear-cut for both parties. Republicans have repeatedly
cited the Jefferson probe as an example of Democratic malfeasance in the
face of charges about their own “culture of corruption.” On the Democratic
side of the aisle, the investigation itself undermines the effectiveness of
their efforts to tar Republicans with the corruption issue.
Hastert IS... Hastert ISN'T
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) – is he under investigation by
the FBI for corruption? ABC News says he is [LINK];
the Justice Department says he isn't [LINK].
Here is an excerpt from the ABC News report:
ABC, citing high level Justice Department sources, said information
implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now
cooperating with the government.
Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago,
urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian
reservation that would have competed with those of other tribes.
And here is an excerpt from The Hill report with the Justice Department's
The Department of Justice issued a statement clarifying that Speaker Dennis
Hastert (R-Ill.) is not under investigation Wednesday evening after ABC
World News Tonight reported that he was "very much in the mix" of the DOJ’s
sweeping congressional bribery probe.
"Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department," DOJ
Director of Public Affairs Tasia Scolinos said in a one-line statement.
Cheney v Libby?
Vice President Dick Cheney may be called as a government witness to testify
against his former chief of staff Scooter Libby. This, according to special
counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is in charge of the CIA leak of Valerie
Fitzgerald said Cheney's "state of mind" is "directly relevant" to whether
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's former top aide, lied to FBI
agents and a federal grand jury about how he learned about CIA officer
Valerie Plame's identity and what he
subsequently told reporters.
Libby "shared the interests of his superior and was subject to his
direction," the prosecutor wrote. "Therefore, the state of mind of the vice
president as communicated to (the) defendant is directly relevant to the
issue of whether (the) defendant knowingly made false statements to federal
agents and the grand jury regarding when and how he learned about (Plame's)
employment and what he said to reporters regarding this issue."
Troops to the border
President Bush's plan of sending National Guard troops to help the
overwhelmed Border Patrol secure the US-Mexico border may get underway as
soon as next week, according to an AP article [LINK]:
The first wave
of about 800 National Guard soldiers will head to the U.S-Mexico border as
early as next week, including planners and leadership personnel who will
stay longer than the planned 21-day missions, the National Guard chief told
Lt. Gen. Steven Blum said 200 soldiers are
preparing to go to each of the four border states -California, Texas,
Arizona and New Mexico - around June 1. He said the initial troops will be
part of a longer- term force of project managers who will stay on the job
over time to provide continuity in the new border program.
Pelosi to Jefferson: step down
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has asked Rep. William Jefferson
(D-LA) to step down as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Jefferson's congressional office and home were raided by the FBI last
weekend, and close to $100,000 in cash was found in a freezer in his home.
He is under investigation for corruption.
Here is Pelosi's brief letter:
May 24, 2006
Congressman William J. Jefferson, 2113 Rayburn House Office Building, U.S.
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Congressman Jefferson:
In the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House
Democratic Caucus, I am writing to request your immediate resignation from
the Ways and Means Committee.
Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader
Jefferson refused Pelosi's request:
"With respect, I decline to do so," he wrote back to Pelosi."I will not give
up a committee assignment that is so vital to New Orleans at this crucial
time for any uncertain, long-term political strategy."
The Congressional Black Congress cried 'FOUL!' and
The Hill declared in headline: "Pelosi move triggers revolt", all of
which ended in an 'emergency meeting' with Pelosi.
Outraged that one of its members was being picked on even though he has not
been charged with a crime, the Congressional Black Caucus had intended to
issue a defiant statement against their leader but agreed after the meeting
to pause, at least briefly, for reflection.
The Jefferson scandal, which
after more than a year of investigation blew open Saturday with an FBI raid
at his congressional office, has brought into glaring public light
long-standing resentments felt by black lawmakers toward the Democratic
leadership in the House.
Dodd eyes 2008
Long-time liberal Senator Christopher Dodd (C-CT) says he is eyeing a
presidential run in 2008, according to the
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd said today he has "decided to do all the things
that are necessary to prepare to seek the presidency in 2008."
The Connecticut Democrat will hire staff, raise money and travel around the
country in the next few months as he tries to enlist support.
Like other presidential contenders, Dodd said during a lengthy interview in
his Capitol Hill office that he will not formally decide until early next
year whether to make his bid official. At the moment, he joins about 10
other major Democratic Party figures who are considering a run.
Dodd came close to running in 2004 but never entered the race. Circumstances
are different today -- he is not up for re-election to his Senate seat, and
colleague Joe Lieberman is not running for president.
Former Rep. Dick Gephardt (C-MO) expressed his doubts about Democrats
retaking control of the House in the 2006 elections [LINK].
His remarks were made during a private luncheon sponsored by
the Gerson Lehrman
investment-consulting firm. Gephardt ran an unsuccessful bid in 2004 for his
Party's presidential nomination.
Once his doubt surfaced in news
reports, Gephardt back peddled and declared publicly:
“It’s never possible to make an iron-clad guarantee,” he said. “If the
election were today, we’d win back the House, but it is not today. … We have
a great chance to win back the House.”
Asked about the Senate, Gephardt said, “We have a great chance to win back
Sources said Gephardt’s public comments contrast with his statements behind
closed doors last week. Gephardt disputed those claims, characterizing them
as “rank hearsay.”
Gallup Poll shows Red/Blue morals differ
There are differences between
Republicans and Democrats according to what they find morally acceptable,
according to a Gallup poll of 1,005 adults released recently:
Republicans respondents: Death penalty (accepted by 82 percent), wearing
animal fur (75 percent), divorce (59 percent), embryonic stem-cell research
(53 percent), premarital sex (50 percent), babies born out of wedlock (43
percent), homosexual relations (36 percent), human cloning (8 percent),
adultery (3 percent).
Democrats: Death penalty (accepted by 63 percent), wearing animal fur (55
percent), divorce (71 percent), embryonic stem-cell research (69 percent),
premarital sex (65 percent), babies born out of wedlock (57 percent),
homosexual relations (53 percent), human cloning (8 percent), adultery (5
Here it is again, in a side-by-side comparison:
Accept Death penalty
Accept wearing animal fur
Accept premarital sex
Accept babies born
out of wedlock
Accept homosexual relations
Accept human cloning
Bill Clinton and the Democracy Alliance
Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reports on Bill Clinton's visit to the
The behind-the-scenes group of elite Democratic donors
known as the Democracy Alliance met
in Austin, Texas, last weekend to discuss plans to finance the construction
of a progressive political infrastructure.
The highlight of the gathering (or lowlight, depending on your perspective)
came when former President Bill Clinton made an unscheduled
appearance and addressed the group. During a riff on how Democrats could
move forward when it came to the war in Iraq, Clinton was interrupted by one
of the attendees who asked why more potential 2008 candidates had not
followed former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards's lead on
the issue. A tense exchange between the two men followed, according to
several sources who were at the meeting or heard about it from people who
McCain returns checks
Washington Post reports that Sen. John McCain has returned checks from
individuals under investigation for failure to pay taxes:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) returned $20,000 in campaign contributions from
two prominent Texas businessmen after staff members for his political action
committee discovered that there was an investigation into one of their
The donations were made to Straight Talk America -- McCain's leadership
political action committee -- by Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire brothers
who have been major players in Republican fundraising for years. Each cut a
$5,000 check to Straight Talk, as did Sam's wife, Cheryl, and Charles's son,