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More updates on the lockdown in the Rayburn House Office Building. The grim reality of shelter-in-place sets in. I guess not everyone hoarded granola bars and chemical toilet kits the way Homeland Security told them to:

From CQ: "A sign taped to a fifth floor window on the south side of Rayburn said 'help please send pizza now -- cafeterias are closed.'"

From WashPost: "About 60 people, including Capitol Hill staffers, media representatives and about 10 members of Congress, remain in the [House Intelligence Committee] hearing room, talking on cell phones, checking their Blackberries, reading newspapers and sharing one bathroom."

Yikes. This does not bode well for Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA).

His former aide, Brett Pfeffer, who pled guilty earlier this year to bribery charges, has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

Eight years. And this is a guy who cooperated, and is continuing to cooperate, with the government in their case against Jefferson.

From the AP:

... Pfeffer admitted to helping broker deals between Jefferson, D-La., and a northern Virginia investment executive for whom Pfeffer worked. That executive, who has not been identified in court documents, agreed to pay bribes to Jefferson after Pfeffer said the congressman would require it.

"I've gone over in my head 10 million times why I didn't look him in the eye and say no ... why I allowed myself to take his demands to my boss," Pfeffer said during the sentencing....

U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis III said a tough sentence was necessary to deter others from public corruption.

"Public corruption is an infection in the body politic that cannot be tolerated," Ellis said.


Jefferson is heading for an indictment on a number of bribery charges - if he's convicted, it seems likely that he could shatter the record set for the longest sentence for a Member of Congress: 8 years, 4 months, set by Duke Cunningham.

The White House's replacement for accused kleptophile Claude Allen seems to have strange habits of his own. The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein reports that Karl Zinsmeister, Bush's pick to be his new domestic policy adviser, "altered his own quotes and other text" in a newspaper profile of him reprinted on his organization's web site.

In other words: He posted the profile -- with the reporter's byline, and a credit to the newspaper -- but changed his quotes and other details.

Zinsmeister's "improved" story doesn't make him sound much more likeable. For instance:

Old quote: "People in Washington are morally repugnant, cheating, shifty human beings." New quote: "I learned in Washington that there is an 'overclass' in this country stocked with cheating, shifty human beings that's just as morally repugnant as our 'underclass.'"

Old description: [Zinsmeister has] "a strong distaste for the Washington elite." New description: [Zinsmeister has] "a distaste for the Washington elite."

Zinsmeister's improved profile was posted on the website of American Enterprise magazine, for which he was an editor. The magazine is published by the conservative American Enterprise Institute. (via The Plank)

So here's where we are now.

Bush's intervention yesterday, sealing the evidence seized Saturday from Rep. William Jefferson's office, likely won't accomplish anything but buy time and aggravate the Justice Department and FBI. And there's a simple reason why. On the one hand, House Speaker Hastert and Jefferson want the documents returned. On the other hand, the FBI and Justice Department absolutely refuse to return the documents. There's simply no middle ground there.

Justice Department officials feel strongly enough about it that some senior officials were prepared to resign if Bush ordered the documents returned. FBI and DoJ officials told the NY Times that there was " virtually no possibility that any material taken legally during the search would be returned since it was now in the custody of the F.B.I. as evidence in an active criminal case."

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee has called a hearing for next Tuesday on the raid. It's suggestively titled "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?" And as an indication of how far Hastert is willing to go, he has reportedly pursued negotiations with the White House about possible legislation to dictate how prosecutors could pursue congressional materials.

Somehow I don't see these two sides coming together.

And don't forget that there's a third party here: William Jefferson. He filed a motion on Wednesday to have the documents returned. Since that's unlikely to happen, no matter what comes of the negotiations between the House and Justice Department, Jefferson will continue to press his case in the courts.

The outcome of all this, of course, extends far beyond this particular case. The FBI has been aggressively pursuing a number of investigations on the Hill. In order to press those cases, they need congressional materials.

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Rayburn is still locked down; police are searching room-by-room. the Capitol Police sent instructions of how to respond to a room search, according to Raw Story. Earlier reports that a gunman was spotted in the Rayburn gym have been discounted, however a staffer in the gym who saw the man has been taken to the hospital as a "precautionary measure."

More than one person appears to have heard the shots, including Rep. Jim Sexton (R-NJ).

Pennsylvania Dems were right: Santorum doesn't live here anymore. Back story -- one or more volunteers went to Santorum's alleged PA residence, confirmed it was empty, and it became a campaign issue. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tells the rest:

In a letter to [Santorum's Democratic opponent, Bob] Casey, [Santorum] speaks of his "outrage" regarding the actions of the Casey campaign "which have put our six young children at a serious safety risk."

Though that suggestion is far-fetched to the point of absurdity, it would be a potential source of fear only if the senator actually lived in Penn Hills, but -- let us repeat one last time -- the Santorum family is at no risk because he doesn't live here anymore and the family is in Virginia most of the time. So what we have is the senator making untrue and outrageous comments while seeking to hide behind his wife and kids in order to get around an inconvenient fact.


"Mr. Casey described Sen. Santorum's claims as 'weird' and 'bizarre,'" the Post-Gazette says. "Actually, they are beyond weird and raise serious questions about the senator's ethics that go beyond the residency question." (via Crooks and Liars)

I'd like to share some speculation about the domestic surveillance efforts we've heard about, in bits and pieces, over the last couple of years. Here's the thing: I've pulled a bunch of old articles on various aspects of these programs, and they seem to fit together.

In short, looking at stories over the last year or so by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the latest entry from USA Today (plus a bit of my own research), I get the following picture:

After the 9/11 attacks, the federal government assembled a cross-departmental effort to comb the United States for possible terrorist activity. Using massive databases and largely untested analytical techniques, the NSA generated thousands of false "leads" which were passed to the FBI. There, agents issued thousands of secret warrants for personal information, and spent thousands of man-hours chasing the results -- which were negligible. And you and I paid for it.

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Drudge is reporting "Police sealed off the U.S. Capitol Friday after reports of gunfire in a House office building across the street..."

From the Hill, Reader RM writes "shots fired in Rayburn," a building in the Capitol complex which contains offices for House members and committees.

Update: WPost says, "Shots reported fired at the Rayburn House office building, employees ordered to shelter in place, according to television news reports."

Update: CNN says shots are unconfirmed, police are investigating "sounds of gunfire" in Rayburn garage.

Update: Congressional Quarterly says the House has left for the long weekend, and has only two hearings scheduled, both in Rayburn. One is a subcommittee markup of a 2007 appropriations bill; the other, an intelligence committee hearing entitled, "The Media's Role and Responsibilities in Leaks of Classified Information."

Update: CNN reports more than one "gunshot" was heard, and they were reported by a single staffer.

Later Update: Capitol Police will be holding a presser at noon.

I checked in with colleagues who are covering the day-to-day of the David Safavian trial, and they largely concurred that day two was uneventful. "They read emails all day," one told me, referring to the notes between Jack Abramoff and Safavian that prosecutors released to the media many days ago.

I stopped by the courthouse this morning for the opening of the day's events; the courtroom gallery was mostly empty -- maybe half a dozen reporters, and a few more observers.

The hard-core crew seem to have their fingers crossed that the testimony of Neil Volz, the former Ney staffer and Abramoff colleague who's cooperating with prosecutors, will provide some fireworks. He may take the stand later this morning, I'm told, although smart money seems to be on him being called after lunch.

Now, here's a development that could make the David Safavian trial more interesting. Safavian's lawyer Barbara van Gelder has filed a motion seeking to confer immunity on three witnesses she wants to put on the stand. All three, she says, are under investigation by the Justice Department and have told her that they'll exercise their Fifth Amendment privilege if called.

So who are these mysterious three? The key to this case is the 2002 Scotland golf junket hosted by Jack Abramoff. Ralph Reed and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) were also along for the ride, so either could be called. Van Gelder hasn't even ruled out calling Abramoff. That would be fun.

Other Ney staffers came on the trip too: Neil Volz (already a witness for the prosecution), Paul Vinovich, and Will Heaton. Vinovich and Heaton have both been subpoenaed by prosecutors, and Vinovich has signaled that he'll invoke the Fifth. So it seems pretty certain that van Gelder wants to hear from Vinovich.

But no matter who is called, there's no doubt what we'll be hearing about: golf.

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