(Keywords: politics, Bush, scandal, how the William Jefferson bribery scandal blew up in the administration's face)
CNN reports that Attorney General Gonzales, Deputy Attroney General Paul McNulty, and FBI Director Robert Meuller "indicated they would resign if forced to give the seized materials back." The seized materials being materials taken in an unprecedented raid on William Jefferson's congressional office in a bribery investigation.
What's surprising is that these Justice Dept. officials made a stand on principle - who knew anyone in this administration had any principles? What's unsurprising is that those principles are dead wrong.
According to the report, "Inside the White House, the two administration sources told CNN that Vice Presidential Chief of Staff David Addington believed the FBI had crossed a constitutional line. Addington, usually a strong proponent of presidential power, asserted that in this case the FBI went too far and violated the separation of powers.
"One source said Vice President Dick Cheney met with the president and 'at a minimum' made the case that the critics of the raid had points that needed to be considered.
"'I can't say for certain the 'veep' agreed with David (Addington) but I know he relayed those concerns as legitimate,' the source said." It's nice to know that someone recognizes the existence of the Constitution, but who knew it'd be Cheney?
The story continues, "President Bush averted or at least delayed a showdown within the administration on Thursday by ordering the documents sealed and held by the solicitor general for 45 days while all sides try to reach a compromise."
Part of me wonders how much of any of this is true. After all, has Justice raided any republican congress critters' offices over the Abramoff bribery case? Nope. Clearly, the raid was politically motivated. Republicans are desperate to get Jefferson on the front page and Abramoff off it. When House Speaker Dennis Hastert started hollering about the raid, it must've created a huge problem for the administration. By sealing the documents, Bush is allowed to pretend that the raid never happened - for forty-five days, anyway.
In the end, a White House seeking to make front page news with a democrat's bribery scandal managed to get themselves above the fold.