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House judiciary panel to hold hearing on FBI raid of congressional office

[JURIST] US House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has said that his committee will hold an oversight hearing [press release] into the constitutionality of the FBI's 18-hour raid [JURIST report] last Saturday night of the congressional offices of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) [official website]. The FBI says it videotaped Jefferson accepting a $100,000 bribe from an informant. Calling the raid "unprecedented," Sensenbrenner said the FBI's conduct "raises profoundly disturbing constitutional questions that must be addressed." The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Earlier this week, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said that the FBI's executive power to prosecute lawbreakers does not authorize the agency to seize legislative documents and that the FBI's conduct violated separation of power principles [JURIST report]. Hastert then co-wrote a statement [text] with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) demanding that the FBI return all seized legislative documents [JURIST report]. CNS News has more.

Meanwhile Thursday, Hastert accused the Justice Department of retaliating [AP report] against his criticism of the raid by leaking his name to the press in connection with the ongoing investigation into former lobbyist Jack Abramoff [JURIST news archive]. The DOJ released statements denying the leak immediately after ABC News reported late Wednesday night that the DOJ was investigating Hastert's involvement in the Abramoff scandal. Hastert sponsored the Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 [HR 4975 summary] that was passed by the House [JURIST report] earlier this month.

3:17 PM ET - AP is reporting that President Bush has ordered that the documents seized from Jefferson's office be sealed for 45 days.

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