Newt Defends Stance on Jefferson Raid

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.) today defended his decision to criticize the FBI for its raid on Rep. William Jefferson’s (D.-La.) office on Capitol Hill—a stance that disappointed some conservatives.

In his weekly Winning the Future e-mail newsletter (published by HUMAN EVENTS), Gingrich writes in response to a reader inquiry:

[T]he raid flies in the face of a 200-year procedure for the Executive Branch to request documents from the Legislative Branch. In this particular instance, the Justice Department abandoned this well established tradition of working with the Congress out of respect to a co-equal branch of government and instead, sent the FBI to comb through a legislative office for 18 hours without allowing a single official of the Legislative Branch to observe the search.

Gingrich was responding to a readers’ question as part of the weekly “Ask Newt” portion of the newsletter. The reader, David M. of Dos Palos, Calif., asked if Gingrich was deviating from one of the planks in the Contract with America:

I noticed that you were critical of the FBI serving a search warrant on Congressman Jefferson [D-La.]. In the Contract with America one of the planks stated that Congress should “…require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress.”

Have you changed your mind?

No way, says Gingrich. He proceeds to explain his rationale for coming out against the FBI, a position later adopted by current Speaker Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.), which drew boos from right-wing bloggers.

Now Gingrich explains in details his stance and why he took it: