[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] called the May FBI raid of the congressional office [JURIST report] of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) [official website] an "unusual" but necessary step on Tuesday, comparing the office search to past searches of the homes and vehicles of other members of Congress. The US Department of Justice [official website] has consistently defended the search of Jefferson's office, which was pursuant to a search warrant obtained primarily based on an affidavit [PDF] depicting evidence of Jefferson accepting a $100,000 bribe from an FBI informant posing as a Nigerian government official. Gonzales explained that investigators had tried unsuccessfully for months to obtain the evidence seized in the office raid, but concluded that an office search was the only possible way to obtain the evidence.
Federal lawmakers, led by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) [official website], from both political parties have condemned the search as unconstitutional, calling it a violation of separation of powers [press release; JURIST report] and prompting President Bush to temporarily seal the evidence seized [JURIST report] during the search while both sides cool off. Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers have come to the defense [Orlando Sentinel report] of the FBI search, expressing concern that Hastert set a double standard and seeks to establish new independence as Republicans gear up for November's mid-term elections. AP has more.