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The tussle between two branches of government over the 2006 FBI search of a congressman’s office may soon entangle the third. The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court last week to review an August appeals court ruling that the search of paper files in Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson’s office during a bribery investigation violated the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the raid improperly exposed legislative material to the executive branch. Deputy Solicitor General Gregory Garre told the justices in a petition that the Court needs to resolve the issue quickly. “Until it does so, investigations of corruption in the nation’s capital and elsewhere will be seriously and perhaps even fatally stymied.” Why did Garre, and not his boss, Solicitor General Paul Clement, file the brief? Clement recused in the case, but when asked by Legal Times, he declined to say why. Possible reason: Clement played a tangential role when the fur was flying between Congress and the Justice Department over the Jefferson raid. President George W. Bush ordered that the seized documents be placed in Clement’s custody for 45 days for safekeeping.
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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