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Lost in all of the brouhaha over the fired US attorneys is the dog that didn't bark.

We all know about the prosecutions US Attorneys were pressured into accelerating, or charges they were tasked with bringing against Democrats in the last election cycle.

We also know about how the Justice Department hampered investigations into Republicans that might prove to be politically damaging.

But how do you explain the failure to indict Representative William Jefferson (D-LA)?

The Democrats tried dealing with the problem internally, by stripping him of his committee assignment to Ways and Means last year. Then, they actively recruited someone to run against him in the primary, and the party supported his opponent in the run-off election.

But he was-elected anyway.

Now, Speaker Pelosi is caught in a bind on Jefferson. Becuase he hasn't been formally charged with anything, she can't move to expel him from Congress.

On the other hand, despite her pledge to do so, she cannot seat Jefferson on the Homeland Security Committee because the Republicans are threatening to call a roll call vote, which would surely doom his appointment.

In addition to the headache this poses to Nancy Pelosi, there is the impact a well-timed indictment may have on the Lousiana Governors race this November.

I am sure the Republicans are hoping that Jefferson endorses presumptive Democratic nominee John Breaux before he's indicted. And, Breaux can't afford to alienate voters in New Orleans -- who just reelected Jefferson despite his troubles.[Breaux endorsed Jefferson's opponent in the run-off]

GOP Gubernatorial nominee, Bobby Jindal would love to attack Breaux over any Jefferson endorsement.

As would whoever runs against Mary Landrieu! She is, by all accounts,the most vulnerable Democratic incumbant next year. And she has little margin for error in the Lousiana black community at this point. So she is almot forced to deal with Jefferson.

Originally posted to Hesiod on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 12:12 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Maybe he hasn't been indicted because (13+ / 0-)

    they don't have a case against him.  Did anyone ever think of that?  Techinically we are all presumed innocent until proven guilty, but it sure seems like people don't even need an indictment anymore much less a conviction to presume guilt.

    Personally, I was hoping your diary would be asking why he hasn't been indicted and whether or not it is because the very public raids on his home and Congressional offices were orchestrated as part of the US Attorney political prosecution program that seems to be coming to light as the onion is peeled back on that scandal.

    It is easy to raid people's houses and make accusations, but if you can't even get an indictment (which are easy enough even if a ham sandwich is your supposed "perp"), one has to wonder whether there was ever really anything illegal there.

  •  That's a lot of uncontrollable ifs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    macdust, inclusiveheart, duha
    Isn't it possible he hasn't been indicted because they havne't developed proof yet? It's hard for the Republicans to control who a Democrat will or won't endorse or run away from or to predict what Jefferson will do vis a vis other Democrats in the state.

    A new beginning for Ohio: The adults have taken over!

    by anastasia p on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 12:21:58 PM PDT

  •  Nigeria... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nightsweat, buckhorn okie

    This morning on NPR they interviewed a journalist from Nigeria regarding the upcoming presidential race in Nigeria.

    The current vice president (don't remember his name) is currently running for president.  The journalist said that the money that was in Jefferson's freezer was to be paid to the vice president (of Nigeria).

    I wasn't able to listen long enough to find out what the payment was for.

  •  Why not? Because they don't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, inclusiveheart

    have a fully developed case yet?  

    "There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always." -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by duha on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 12:26:06 PM PDT

  •  why not? (4+ / 0-)

    probably the same reason why cynthia mckinney wasn't indicted for the "crime" she was accused of in the media:

    because there wasn't actually a solid case against them.

    if they had the goods on jefferson, there's no way they wouldn't have indicted and convicted him, in full screaming color, in the public eye. the fact that they haven't suggests to me that for all the hype, there's not as much there there as people assumed.

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Wed Apr 04, 2007 at 12:33:49 PM PDT

  •  jefferson is a skunk, but a good friend of his (0+ / 0-)

    name sake, the ex-POTUS.

  •  They've been waiting (5+ / 0-)

    Pelosi Won't Take Legal Action

    Besides the fact that they probably wanted to let the current Leader decide if they were going to challenge the raid on the office, there are other issues as well:

    The FBI raid of Jefferson's office infuriated lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who complained directly to President Bush over what he saw as a serious infringement of the legislative branch's independence. The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group -- made up of Hastert, Pelosi and other leaders from both parties -- filed a motion supporting the congressman's attempt to have the seized documents returned to him.

    A federal judge initially ruled against Jefferson and the House leaders, but the case has been hung up in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

    Jefferson's attorneys and federal prosecutors are fighting over whether the Justice Department violated the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution in seizing documents and other materials from Jefferson's office. The Speech or Debate Clause protects lawmakers from unwarranted intrusion by the executive branch.

    [snip]

    Pelosi raised the issue of filing a motion with the appeals court during a meeting of top Democrats earlier this week, according to several people at the session. As speaker, they said, she remains concerned that the FBI raid would set a precedent for future criminal investigations of sitting lawmakers, one that could permanently alter the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches.

    They undoubtably need the results of that search to clinch an indictment.

  •  Hesiod -- The REASON (4+ / 0-)

    Jeffeson has challenged the search of his office and seizure of 19,000 pages of documents, and the appeal of the denial of his challenge is currently before the DC Circuit.  In fact, it appears that the government just filed its brief less than a week ago.  See this.  The government wants to look at this stuff (and probably to introduce some in evidence), but really can't until the litigation is over.  So there is (despite my own prior cynicism) a real reason for the delay.

    Looks like the case won't be heard for a few months, and who knows when it will be decided.  But the timing is not in the prosecutor's hands at this point.  

    •  Now you might think (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, hypersphere01

      they didn't need those 19,000 pages, in light of this, from link above:

      FBI agents seized several computer hard drives, floppy disks and two boxes of paper documents from Mr. Jefferson's office in the Rayburn House Office Building. The lawmaker was videotaped in July 2005 accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant, and agents found $90,000 hidden in a freezer the next month in his Northeast Washington home, authorities have said.

      But the government isn't precluded from trying to gather all the evidence it can get before it indicts somebody, so there's nothing inappropriate on the face of things.

      •  Actually there are things that are inappropriate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TracieLynn

        because when they siezed those documents from his Congressional offices, they may have gone well beyond the scope of the subpoena - into political documents which at the time was a really intense debate.  There is a lot of weirdness around this case and the announcement that they had found the money with no pending indictment was far too "convenient" in its timing - had Mark Foley not been outed the election might have hinged on a Jefferson storyline that they couldn't seem to sustain - which begs the question why?  I smell a rat and have done from the start of this case.  I know Jefferson has anything but a squeeky clean reputation, but no crook is that smart given the access that the prosecutor has had to his files.

        I want to also point out that we have never seen either the video tape they have been talking about or pictures of the cash.

        If he is guilty - fine - let 'er rip - but right now all we have is a guy accused by an Administration that has huge gaps in its own credibility.

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