Washington Endures Week-Long Political Wrestling Match

Political wrangling in Washington, D.C., stretched from Capitol Hill to the White House this week, with the Justice Department also in the mix. The squabbling was mostly over investigations and immigration legislation.


As we mentioned, politics was more of a contact sport than usual in Washington this week. We heard sharp exchanges and witnessed quite an array of shifting alliances. It all began with last weekend's FBI raid on the office of Congressman William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat who's under investigation for bribery. This was the first such FBI search in the Capitol in more than 200 years and Congressman Jefferson was angry.

Representative WILLIAM JEFFERSON (Democrat, Louisiana): I think it represents the, an outrageous intrusion on the separation of powers between the Executive branch and the Congressional branch. As far as I know, there's no real authority for it.

BLOCK: What's unusual is that Jefferson had backing not just from Democrats, but also from the Republican leadership in Congress, most notably House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who said the raid crossed the separation of powers line.

Then yesterday, in a surprise move, the White House sided against its own Justice Department and ordered the items seized in that raid sealed for 45 days. Another remarkable turn came when Speaker Hastert found himself the subject of an ABC News report that said he was being investigated in a corruption probe. Hastert accused the Justice Department of punishing him for opposing the search of Jefferson's office. Speaking on WGN radio in Chicago, Hastert denied he was under investigation.

Representative DENNIS HASTERT (Republican, Illinois): It's just not true. You know, the Justice Department said there is no investigation and you know this is one of the leaks that come out to try to, you know, intimidate people and we're just not going to be intimidated.

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