[JURIST] US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) [official website] on Monday warned the Federal Bureau of Investigation [official website] to act carefully in the wake of its search of the congressional office [JURIST report] of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) [official website] in connection to Jefferson's alleged involvement in a large fraud scam. FBI officials videotaped Jefferson last August accepting a $100,000 bribe from an informant for a Nigerian official and later found $90,000 in Jefferson's freezer in his home.
Hastert accused the Justice Department of crossing the separation of powers line [press release] by searching Jefferson's office:
The actions of the Justice Department in seeking and executing this warrant raise important Constitutional issues that go well beyond the specifics of this case. Insofar as I am aware, since the founding of our Republic 219 years ago, the Justice Department has never found it necessary to do what it did Saturday night, crossing this Separation of Powers line, in order to successfully prosecute corruption by Members of Congress. Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years.
The search warrant obtained by the FBI for the search of Jefferson's office described protective measures to ensure the search did not illegally seize privileged material, including a team of prosecutors and FBI agents not connected to the investigation that monitored the search to review any items seized. If any questions about seized items remained, a judge would then review the items before handing the evidence over to the case prosecutors. Hastert, however, believes those protections were not great enough. AP has more.