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Funny how attached to his job Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) seems - now that he's under investigation.

It's been hinted since the beginning of the week that the Dem leadership would make a bid to push Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) out of his plum committee position. He's on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, trade, Medicare, etc.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made her play yesterday, which prompted a defiant response from Jefferson:

"I will not give up a committee assignment that is so vital to New Orleans at this crucial time for any uncertain, long-term political strategy.... None of the matters reported to be under scrutiny involves issues under jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee,” Jefferson said.

“Therefore, such a request (to step down) would be even more perplexing and unreasonable. If I agreed, it would unfairly punish the people of the 2nd Congressional district and I will not stand for that.”

He said a request to give up the Ways and Means post would be “discriminatory” because no other member under investigation has been required to give up a major committee assignment.

So Jefferson's not stepping aside so easily.

I can't help comparing such tenacity with his remark to the FBI informant, Lori Mody, that he's just sticking around Congress to push through a telecom deal (of which he was getting a fat cut): "I'm gonna get your deal out of the way... and I probably won't last long after that."

How times change.

I'm a day late, but this tidbit was too good to pass up. From a piece on Rep. William Jefferson's (D-LA) news conference in yesterday's edition of The Hill newspaper:

In a surreal moment at Jefferson’s news conference, entertainer Dave Chappelle wandered through, having just come from Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union, where he does his banking. The comedian signed a few autographs before moving on.

It got me thinking. . . Couldn't Chappelle do a wicked Jefferson impersonation?

Facing Corruption Charges, Ney Helps Watchdog Group Fundraise You've read a lot on this site about the Washington, D.C.-based group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). They're the group that's constantly pushing for documents and probes in cases of corruption on Capitol Hill.

They've been hounding Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who's been ID'd in four plea agreements as corruptly assisting disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Among the rebukes employed by Ney to defend against CREW is that they take money from conservative bogeyman George Soros, a progressive billionaire who funds a variety of causes.

Only problem was, CREW didn't get money from Soros -- until Ney and his people opened their mouths, anyway:

After Ney and his spokesman, Brian Walsh, repeatedly insisted her group was funded by Soros, Sloan brought their claims to Soros' foundation.

"'We kept saying, They say you are already funding us. Shouldn't you?'" recalls Sloan, who said the group got its first grant in January.

(Cleveland Plain Dealer)

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Reacting to the surprise raid Saturday on the offices of Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson (D-LA), the Speaker of the House told the White House to keep its G-men at bay, AP reports.

A grand jury is expected to return a formal indictment of Rep. William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson (D-LA) in four to six weeks, ABC News reports.

The network also says that the FBI went to extraordinary lengths in preparing legal justifications and safeguards for its unprecedented raid of the congressman's Capitol office. Apparently, one of the issues was a collection of documents and computer files the Justice Department had requested -- but Congress' lawyers would not release:

[T]he FBI had sought to obtain documents and computer discs from Jefferson's office through the use of a grand jury subpoena.

Officials say the House of Representatives General Counsel made copies of the requested documents and discs several weeks ago but then refused to turn them over.

Officials said Judge Thomas Hogan himself suggested the FBI request a search warrant for the Capitol Hill office of the Congressman, which Hogan authorized last Thursday.

We've been quiet about it so far, but privately we've been training, focusing, air-boxing to the Rocky theme music -- let the era of the Abramoff trial begin!

Opening statements in the trial of Abramoff pal David Safavian are tomorrow, and Justin will be there at DC's E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse to get the sights and sounds. (Running up the steps in a sweatshirt -- Rising up, back on the street/Did my time, took my chances. . . )

Jack himself won't be showing up - prosecutors have chosen to let his emails speak for themselves. (As a consolation prize, Rep. Bob Ney's (R-OH) former staffer Neil Volz will take the stand.) And this isn't exactly a bribery trial. Safavian, a former General Services Administration official, is charged with lying to GSA ethics officials, the GSA's Inspector General, and investigators from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. So it's not really a good indicator of how prosecutors will fare in court when they go after members of Congress.

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You knew this was coming.

Last week we found out why the Secret Service had turned over visitor records to Judicial Watch showing only two visits by Jack Abramoff when we knew there were more. The White House, not the Secret Service, has the more comprehensive records.

Well, now it appears doubtful that the White House will ever turn those records over. We may never know how many times Abramoff really visited the White House... or who Jeff Gannon/James Guckert, the male prostitute and White House correspondent, met with there. The White House has records that would show all that. But in a departure from the policy of the Clinton White House, the Bush administration seems determined to keep them forever out of public view.

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From the NY Daily News:

Two top CIA officials will bolster prosecutors' charge that Vice President Cheney's chief aide lied to them, court papers show....

Both CIA officials - including a top architect of the 2003 Iraq invasion - discussed Plame with Libby a month before columnist Robert Novak blew her cover in July 2003, prosecutors charge.

I wrote yesterday about the company General Atomics, the pork-loving defense contractor who generously provided a trip to Italy for a senior aide to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and her spouse. Lewis, of course, is now reportedly under federal investigation.

Guess what? General Atomics had a much more frequent flier on the senior staff of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), Lewis' longtime colleague and pal on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, which doles out Pentagon dollars. (Duke's now doing eight years plus of hard time in the pokey for taking bribes from defense contractors).

For the past four years, former Cunningham legislative director Nancy Lifset traveled annually on General Atomics' dime. Or rather, on General Atomics' $36,000, which is roughly the combined cost of her trips. Of course, given the hundreds of millions of federal dollars that Lifset's boss was helping funnel to General Atomics via unrequested Pentagon contracts, I'm sure they could afford it.

I have not had a chance to ask Lifset about the purposes of those trips; she left the Hill last month, and her home number is not listed in the D.C. area. However, federal investigators have had a chance to chat with her -- she is the only Cunningham staffer confirmed to have been subpoenaed by prosecutors.

Where did Lifset go on GA's dime? In 2002, she spent 10 days in "various locations" in Italy, according to congressional travel records. The purpose of the trip, she reported, was "visits to NATO facilities and manufacturers of U.S. defense equipment, meeting with U.S. embassy representatives in Italy." Her airfare alone cost nearly $2,800; the total trip was over $5,000.

In 2003, Lifset took a 10-day jaunt to Berlin "to visit General Atomics facilities in Germany related to U.S. and NATO security, and U.S. military operations located there." That jaunt cost General Atomic nearly $7,000.

In 2004, Lifset went on an eight-day whirlwind tour of Turkey (Ankara and Istanbul) and made a stop in Rome. She met with "Turkish and Italian government officials and contractors to discuss NATO interoperability and related military issues." She also reported meeting with U.S. embassy and "government officials" in both countries. Ring that one up at nearly $10,000.

And in 2005, Lifset went to Australia for nine days "to visit with Australian officials, military and others engaged in U.S.-Australian mutual security issues." That one set General Atomics back more than $14,000, including $38.35 in "sundry items, newspapers, etc." that Lifset appears to have charged to the company.

In what I'm sure is unrelated news, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that the Australian Air Force is planning to try out several of General Atomics' Predator drones.