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Hastert may challenge court order allowing FBI to view seized congressional papers

[JURIST] US House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) [official website] told Fox News Sunday [transcript] over the weekend that he might challenge a July 10 federal court order [PDF text] allowing the FBI to view documents seized in the congressional office raid [JURIST report] of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) [official website] in May. Chief Judge Thomas Hogan ruled [JURIST report] earlier this month that the FBI raid was constitutional because "a Member of Congress is generally bound to the operation of the criminal laws as are ordinary persons." Last week, Judge Thomas rejected a request [JURIST report] by Jefferson to stay his order authorizing an FBI filter team to view the seized documents. Though Hastert said the House will not support Jefferson in an appeal of the order, Hastert said the House may separately challenge the order to voice its opposition to the congressional office search, which has prompted widespread separation of powers debate [JURIST report].

The FBI raided Jefferson's congressional offices as part of an investigation connected to a bribery scheme involving a Kentucky telecommunications firm that received contracts in Nigeria. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, and FBI Director Robert Mueller all said they would resign [JURIST report] if forced to hand back information gathered during the search, prompting President Bush to order the documents to be sealed for 45 days [JURIST report] until the matter could be resolved. AP has more.

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