The Corner

The House’s Trust in Jefferson

The only way the House could rationally assert that it is in possession of all the documents responsive to the subpoenas would be if the House itself, aware of what was in the subpoena, had conducted a thorough search of Jefferson’s office.  Undoubtedly, that never happened.  Short of such a search, any assertion by the House that it has all the documents has to depend on Jefferson himself:  i.e., Jefferson says he has given the House all the appropriate documents and the House has decided to take Jefferson’s word for it.  

There are reasons beyond just the obvious one Kate mentions (about the 90K in marked bills) to doubt Jefferson on that score.  The Justice Department today filed a memorandum of law in opposing Jefferson’s demand that the property seized from his office be returned to him.  Included with the memo was an affidavit from an FBI agent who was present in Jefferson’s home when it was searched on August 3, 2005 (i.e., the search in which the 90K was recovered).  The agent explains that, even while the search was being conducted, Jefferson tried to conceal documents from the FBI. 

Specifically, at the start of the search, Jefferson was seated at a table in the kitchen.  The agent saw him looking at several pieces of paper laid on the table.  Jefferson then asked the agents if he could take a look at a 19-page subpoena that had been served on him earlier in the day.  The FBI agreed and brought him a copy of the subpoena.  According to the agent, Jefferson (when he obviously thought no one was looking), put the subpoena on top of some of the documents he had been looking at earlier, and then placed the whole stack under his elbow.   

Subsequently, once Jefferson saw that the agents were finished searching the living room area, including a blue bag that was in the living room, Jefferson asked if he could move to the living room from the kitchen.  When the FBI said OK, Jefferson proceeded to take the stack with him and stash it in the blue bag. 

The agent who was observing all this then confronted him.  According to the agent, Jefferson insisted that the only thing he had placed in the bag was the subpoena.  The agent then demanded that the bag be emptied.  Jefferson finally complied, careful to place the subpoena on top.  But sure enough, under the subpoena, the agent found the documents Jefferson had been looking at while he was sitting at the kitchen table.  They had been fax’d to Jefferson that very day by a man named B.K. Son.  The agent pointed out to Jefferson (as if he needed reminding!) that the search warrant being executed specifically called for all communications between Jefferson and Mr. B. K. Son.  The fax’d documents were thus seized from Jefferson and preserved as evidence. 

Given that Jefferson evidently tried to hide documents from the FBI right under the FBI’s nose even as the FBI was in the process of executing a search warrant that demanded those very documents, it’s hard to understand why the House or anyone else would take comfort in any representation from him that all documents responsive to subpoenas have been accounted for and produced.

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