They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Neil Volz, a close aide to Jack Abramoff and a former chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), will take the stand next week in the trial of White House procurement official David Safavian, the AP reports.

Volz "will testify about a suggestion from Safavian for inserting language into legislation that would have conveyed to Abramoff some GSA-controlled property in Maryland," says AP. writer Jason Leopold reported last Saturday that special prosector Patrick Fitzgerald had indicted Karl Rove as part of his investigation into the outing of former CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame.

"Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case," Leopold wrote, "and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 business hours to get his affairs in order[.]"

"An announcement by Fitzgerald is expected to come this week," Leopold reported sources told him.

Twenty-four business hours is three workdays, which would theoretically put an announcement off until Thursday. But when Monday came and went without an announcement from Fitzgerald -- and a sunny Rove gave a rare public performance -- questions swirled.

Today, the Wall Street Journal took on Leopold's account, rounding up a number of on-the-record denials that escaped's writer. The reporter, Anne Marie Squeo, doesn't come out and say it, but her references to libel law and Matt Drudge make it clear: she doesn't believe the guy's stories.

All of which builds the tension for an announcement, if any will be made, from Fitzgerald's office. Will it be Thursday? Will it be ever?

We noted yesterday that several House committees are balking at providing documents to Justice investigators. Roll Call reported sources whining that the requests were so broad and onerous, in order to comply Congress would have to "shut down."

That's a joke, of course. The current Congress spends more time "shut down" than any other in the past 60 years, having been in session only 97 days total. This year, the average working American will show up for work about 150 days more than his or her congressperson. You and I will work through the end of December; our House members' last day of work this year is slated to be Oct. 6. (Of course, professional staff have to stick around even when Congress isn't in session. But you can be sure that life for them takes on a much more relaxed pace during recess.)

The irony is that one of the unspoken reasons Congress spends so many days out of session is that the members need time to raise campaign money -- meet with donors, attend receptions, glad-hand and dial for dollars. And that's the key part of the process that tends to land them in hot water.

So when anonymous Congressional sources complain to the New York Times, as they did yesterday for the paper's follow-on to Roll Call, that fulfilling the prosecutors' request "would take more than 100 hours," don't cry too hard for them. It will help keep them out of trouble.

On the occasion of President Bush's announcement he will post the National Guard along the southern U.S. border, CQ's Patrick Yoest finds this gem -- DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff pooh-poohing the idea less than six months earlier on the O'Reilly Factor:

"Why don't you put the National Guard on the border to back up the border patrol and stop the bleeding, and then start to increase the Border Patrol, the high-tech and all of that?" O’Reilly asked. . . .

"Well, the National Guard is really, first of all, not trained for that mission," Chertoff told O'Reilly. "I mean, the fact of the matter is the border is a special place. There are special challenges that are faced there."

Chertoff added that that it would take a huge amount of National Guard troops, that they would need new training. But couldn’t the National Guard pull it off, O'Reilly asked?

"I think it would be a horribly over-expensive and very difficult way to manage this problem," Chertoff said. "Unless you would be prepared to leave those people in the National Guard day and night for month after month after month, you would eventually have to come to grips with the challenge in a more comprehensive way."

Feds Treat Us Like Common Criminals, House GOP Complains Congressional Republicans are complaining of "reports of wiretaps, searches on Congressional grounds, open-ended document requests and demands to interview committee aides" coming from federal prosecutors, Roll Call reports this morning.

"A number of Members are very concerned about the way the Justice Department is investigating," [House Administration Chairman Vernon] Ehlers [(R-MI)] said, adding that the general impression among some Members is that prosecutors want to "get" a Congressman.

"There’s a feeling that this would be a notch in their belt if they could get a Congressman," Ehlers said.

To date, one former House Republican is in jail, another has been booted from his CIA perch, one has resigned from Congress and at least two current members reportedly are under investigation, all relating to corruption probes.

Still, the GOP valiantly resists reform. "Despite federal probes and promises to change, the Republican-controlled House continues to draft spending bills setting aside billions of dollars for home-state projects without disclosing the sponsor," a practice known as "earmarking" which has been at the root of all current corruption scandals, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Roll Call, WSJ)

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Journalists and pundits have been speculating on the legality of the NSA's aggressive effort to acquire and store U.S. phone records.

At least one expert -- Michael Copps, the maverick senior Democratic commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission -- thinks it's worth a formal review.

"[T]he FCC should initiate an inquiry into whether the phone companies' involvement violated Section 222 or any other provisions of the Communications Act," he announced in a public statement today. "We need to be certain that the companies over which the FCC has public interest oversight have not gone -- or been asked to go -- to a place where they should not be."

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Unfortunately, Copps doesn't have the power to start an investigation on his own. Only FCC chair Kevin Martin can do that. My call to his spokesperson wasn't immediately returned.

Reading back through Rep. William Jefferson's (D-LA) statement this afternoon, it's apparent that he has resigned himself to the fact that he will be indicted. And rather than wait around until the U.S. Attorney's Office actually does it, he's decided to make his big speech beforehand.

It's hard to draw any other conclusion than that from a line like:

No one wants to be indicted. I certainly do not and I certainly do not want anyone - a family member or close associate - to be indicted. But I am prepared to answer these charges formally when and if the time comes.

As far as fiery big speeches go, Jefferson went a lot farther than just saying that he'd be exonerated. He called Brett Pfeffer and Vernon Jackson, two business associates of his who've pled guilty to bribing him, liars and said that he prays "that God will forgive them." He implied that the government's charges were racially motivated, comparing the case against him to past prosecutions of African American members of Congress, Rep. Harold Ford, Sr. of Tennessee and Rep. Floyd Flake of New York, both of whom were cleared of the charges against them.

So I think it's safe to say that we'll have at least one representative running for re-election this November while under indictment. It remains to be seen whether Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) will be the second.

Well, apparently Rep. William Jefferson's "major announcement" wasn't so major after all.

According to Melanie Roussell, Jefferson's spokeswoman, Jefferson said that he will "not be resigning," and is "going to continue to serve as long as the public supports him." Update: Here's the full text of Jefferson's statement:

My attorneys tell me that it is not in my best interest to speak about the criminal investigation at this time. But I feel compelled to make a statement because I believe that my constituents are entitled to hear some response to the spate of recent publicity about me, and I have an obligation to think about your interests, as well.

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Apparently Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) will be making a major announcement in a matter of minutes. We just called his communications director, Melanie Roussell, who said that it would begin soon - but she wouldn't say what the announcement was....