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January 18, 2008

Dollar Bill: FBI Agents Are Big Meanies

William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson wants the court tasked with trying him for corruption to throw out all of the evidence collected at his home. Why? According to his testimony yesterday, FBI agents treated him harshly during the search and cursed at him:

Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) testified yesterday that an FBI agent cursed at him and told him that "this is going to be the worst day of your life," just before agents searched his Louisiana home as part of the investigation that led to corruption charges against him.

At one point during the tense interview at his house in August 2005, Jefferson said, an FBI agent followed him to the bathroom. "I told him, 'Are you going to the bathroom with me?' " Jefferson said in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. "He said, 'Yes.' "

Minutes later, another agent informed Jefferson that $100,000 he had accepted from a government informant -- allegedly used to bribe the vice president of Nigeria -- had been supplied by the FBI. Leaning forward, the agent yelled, "Where is my [expletive] money?" Jefferson testified.

"I'm not going to answer any more questions," the congressman said he told the agents. "I'm done talking to you."

In cross-examination, Jefferson admitted that he invited the FBI agents into his home, who also had a search warrant. Prosecutors argued that the warrant covered everything collected from the home. The defense also wants to suppress statements made by Jefferson in the course of the search because he had not been Mirandized, but he also was not in custody. It seems odd that a Congressman would argue that he wasn't aware his statements could be used against him in trial, but courts are picky about the Miranda warning and incriminating statements made to law enforcement.

This recalls the effort made by Jefferson to throw out all of the evidence collected at his office by the FBI, a case which is under review by the Supreme Court. Jefferson seems very unwilling to have the evidence seized in these raids viewed by either courts or a jury. Like the $90,000 cash he kept on hand, he wants the trail of his corruption in deep freeze.

And the good news is that Jefferson has already started his campaign for re-election. He's raised over $78,000 and spent nearly a third of it. His top five contributors thus far are four unions and Charlie Rangel's campaign, which has already donated $5,000. I guess they agree that that Dollar Bill has just gotten the shaft as well as the gold mine.


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