Rep. Jefferson Holds News Conference
Monday, May 22, 2006; 5:22 PM
SPEAKER: U.S. REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAM JEFFERSON (D-LA)
JEFFERSON: Good afternoon.
I know there's extraordinary interest in the matters at hand regarding me, and I've come here because I recognize that and because I want to be as available to you with respect to these matters as I can be.
However, as you know, there's a criminal investigation going on regarding this, and my lawyers have advised me not to discuss, and I will not discuss any of the alleged facts in the case. That would be extraordinarily foolhardy to avoid their advice. And therefore I will not do that.
I do want to say to you, however, that there are two sides to every story. There are certainly two sides to this story. There will be an appropriate time and forum when that can be explained and explicated. But this is not the time, this is not the forum, and operating on advice of counsel, I will not get into facts.
On the second matter, with respect to the search in my office the other day, I think it represents an outrageous intrusion into separation of powers between the executive branch and the congressional branch, and no one has seen this in all the time of the life of the Congress.
As far as I know, there's no real authority for it. Beyond that, there were no exigent circumstances of which I'm aware under ordinary circumstances would require it.
And so we are at a loss as to what has happened. My lawyers have expressed outrage. Others have as well. All of those who consider themselves scholars in the matter have also done so. And so I think that, with respect to that, we are correct.
JEFFERSON: There was some discussion about what I would do from day to day here. I plan to go to the floor to vote tonight. I plan to go to the floor to vote tomorrow. I plan to carry out my responsibilities here, as I have since the time that I've been here.
I expect to continue to represent the people who've sent me here and to try to respond to their needs and their issues. And I will continue to do that, so long as they permit me to. And that is my position with regard to that.
So I will try, if I can, to make some brief response to you, but it won't be very much of one, because I will not get into the facts, and you should know that before you start, that if you ask me, of course I will simply decline to answer.
QUESTION: Who's your lawyer?
JEFFERSON: My lawyer is Bob Trout, Robert Trout, Trout & Cacheris.
JEFFERSON: I expect to run for reelection, but that's a matter that's down the road. But I expect to run for reelection.
QUESTION: Would you concede that it does not look good at this point?
JEFFERSON: Well, I can't talk about the facts of the matter, with respect to whether things look good or don't look good, and therefore, I won't make a response to that.
QUESTION: Mr. Jefferson, if you did not take a $100,000 bribe, why not just say it now?
JEFFERSON: You're asking me to get into facts that I have told you I will not get into.
JEFFERSON: I told you I will not get into and if you ask me, that, I simply will decline to answer that or any fact you can think of or dream of today or that is apparent to you to ask, I know that there's a great deal of interest in having me answer questions about facts. I've simply told you I will not get involved with that because it is not a prudent thing to do based on advice of counsel, so I will not.
JEFFERSON: I still maintain that.
QUESTION: Would you grant that the situation that you're in today and the situation that (inaudible) do you think this would compromise your ability to be effective?
JEFFERSON: I think I have been extraordinarily effective since the storm came last August. The matters we handle on the tax side, on the Ways and Means Committee, we've had extraordinary success.
I've been to the district with the president two or three times. And the last time just a few weeks ago.
JEFFERSON: And I think that's been an example of how we continue to work with the administration.
My colleagues on the floor have been very responsive to the needs of our district. Our Katrina caucus continues to work and I continue to work with it. And I expect to continue to represent the folks down there as well as I can.
Obviously, we would not like to have to deal with this in the middle of anything, but this will not retard my capacity to continue to work for the people I represent.
QUESTION: Why was the search of your office -- if they have a warrant, why was that outrageous?
JEFFERSON: This is the last thing I'll do.
Because I'm told by people who know this better than I do, constitutional scholars, that there's not been a search or a raid by search warrant of any office of any member of Congress in the history of the Congress, and that is a violation of separation of powers for that to have happened, along with other arguments of comity and all the rest.
But they will make those arguments in the proper forum. I'm not an expert on that, but I'm told that, that is what the matter is.
Source: CQ Transcriptions © 2006, Congressional Quarterly Inc., All Rights Reserved