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Gonzales threatened to quit if forced to turn over Jefferson office search evidence: NYT

[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, and FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profiles] were among a host of other government officials and prosecutors at the US Department of Justice [official website] who said they would resign if the White House forced them to hand over information gathered during the FBI office search [JURIST report] of US Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) [official website] last week, the New York Times reported Saturday. Gonzales met with President Bush earlier this week and the resignation threats seem to have cooled after Bush ordered the documents to be sealed for 45 days [JURIST report]. The search of Jefferson's office was prompted by his alleged involvement in a bribery scheme involving a Kentucky telecommunications firm which was granted contracts in Nigeria. Former Jefferson aide Brett Pfeffer pleaded guilty [Times-Picayune report] in January to bribery charges for brokering deals for Jefferson.

The raid on Jefferson's congressional office in Washington caused waves of protest [JURIST report] by leaders in the US House of Representatives [official websites] from both political parties who began a constitutional separation of powers debate [JURIST report] over whether the FBI's executive powers can extend to the seizure of legislative documents. The legislators also contend that the Bush administration and Congress have not agreed to guidelines on legitimate searches of members of Congress, including how it should be done, the type of notice required, or the interaction between Congress and law enforcement. The 45-day cooling off period is expected to give the Justice Department and members of Congress time to work out an agreement on what is to be done with the evidence collected during the search of Jefferson's office. The New York Times has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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