Bush orders FBI docs sealed

I don’t understand this mess at all. Bush has ordered that documents seized in an FBI raid of Rep. William Jefferson’s offices as part of a bribery investigation be sealed for 45 days to give Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi “some time to step back and try to negotiate with the Department of Justice.”

Jefferson was caught on tape taking $100k in dirty money, $90k of which was found in his freezer. Two people have pleaded guilty to bribing him. So what’s the big hubbub about searching his office? What needs to be negotiated?

The issue seems to be that the search, according to historians, is “the first such search of a congressman's Capitol quarters in the more than two centuries since the first Congress convened.” (Which is, frankly, shocking to me, but okay; I’ll take their word for it. They’d know.) So, because of this unprecedented search, Republicans and Democrats both are complaining that the search indicates “that the executive branch was overstepping its authority.”

Now, look, I’m as likely as just about anyone to accuse the Bush administration of overstepping its authority, but it looks to me more like Congress is going apeshit because suddenly they’re losing what seems an undeserved protection. Any average citizen who was suspected of accepting a bribe would be subjected to an office and home search. It doesn’t strike me as scandalous that the people elected to represent average citizens should be treated the same.

Am I missing something? Help me out here, Shakers.

(And, as an aside, I find this particularly ironic on the day of the Enron verdict.)

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