The Justice Department responded today to the fierce reaction by Congress against the raid of Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) congressional office. Apparently the Justice Department investigators could not trust Jefferson to hand over documents because he had previously hid them from federal agents. Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker explains:
But beyond the legal argumentation, prosecutors supply the most detailed version of their case against him so far. And they explain why it is that they needed to raid his office – because they don’t trust him to turn over evidence. According to an FBI agent’s affidavit appended to the filing, Jefferson tried to “surreptitiously remove” documents while the FBI was searching his home in August of last year.
Jefferson took documents and hid them in a blue bag that had already been searched. An FBI agent observed his actions and explained them in the affidavit. The Washington Post provides more information on what Jefferson is alleged to have done:
“After a copy had been brought to him and he reviewed it, I observed Congressman Jefferson then take the subpoena and the documents he had been reading earlier and place them together under his elbow on the kitchen table.”
At one point, she said, he moved to the living room, which had just been searched, and sat on a recliner. While sitting, he slipped the subpoena and the documents into a blue bag that he knew had already been searched, Kent’s affidavit said.
“After several minutes, I approached Congressman Jefferson and told him that I needed to look at the documents that he had placed into the bag,” the agent stated. “Congressman Jefferson told me the documents were subpoenas.”
He finally pulled out the documents that were from a B.K. Son. The search warrant had asked for all communications between Jefferson and Son, the affidavit said. Son is the chief technology officer of iGate
. If this is true it is unbelievably shocking behavior by a member of Congress. This ranks up there with Duke Cunningham’s bribe menu as the most offensive and ugly thing a member could do. Beyond that, the issuance of this affidavit shows that the Justice Department is not playing around and that they are clearly dealing with a man who could use the privacy of his congressional office to hide information relevant to the investigation.