The general counsel of the House has just sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — misspelling his name — asking that Congress and the Justice Department develop a set of procedures “that would allow [the department], consistent with the Constitution, to execute a search warrant on House offices”:
The Honorable Alberto R. Gonzalez
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear General Gonzalez:
Last Thursday, the Speaker and the Democratic Leader of the House authorized the House Office of General Counsel to begin discussions with the Department of Justice in order to establish procedures and protocols that would allow you, consistent with the Constitution, to execute a search warrant on House offices.
It is the duty of the Department of Justice to aggressively investigate and prosecute public corruption. No one is above the law. It is vital to the well-being of our Nation that corruption, wherever it is found, be eliminated.
It is also vital to the well-being of our Nation that all branches of government safeguard the Constitutional system of checks and balances that were designed by the Founders to protect the American people from the potential for abuse of power by a single branch. That is why the Speaker and the Democratic Leader have instructed us to develop a set of procedures that are consistent with the Separation of Powers principle and the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, while also assuring that congressional offices are not used to shield anyone from legitimate investigations of criminal wrongdoing. The House Office of the General Counsel believes that we can do this.
We know that you and the Department of Justice share the values outlined above, and we hope that you will agree with us that it is possible to develop jointly a set of procedures and protocols that will pass Constitutional muster. We very much look forward to working with you and your colleagues on this important matter. I hope that we might begin our discussions as early as next week. In order to prepare for this meeting, we have been developing proposals for you to obtain the evidence you need in a manner consistent with the Constitution. If your lawyers are ready for a meeting next week, please contact me at your earliest opportunity so that we may move forward with this process as quickly as possible.
Geraldine R. Gennet