Monday, January 21, 2008

Jefferson on the stand

Rep. William Jefferson testified at a pre-trial hearing Thursday, attempting to get evidence from the FBI raid on his house thrown out.

But it didn't go well for him. He claimed the FBI intimidated him when they interviewed him during the raid -- even though he's a member of Congress and a Harvard-educated lawyer, both of which tend to make him unlikely to be intimidated.

He said the FBI agents yelled and swore at him -- even though they apparently weren't loud enough to wake up his sleeping wife and daughter.

The prosecution said the day before that he made a bunch of phone calls during the raid, which would indicate that he was hardly coerced or intimidated. Jefferson denied it. The prosecution responded by brandishing phone records showing various calls from his house that day. It's unclear from the story, however, if the calls were made during or after the interview, which began at around 7 a.m.; the main phone call is from 8:29 a.m.

In any case, what you have here is not a man vigorously defending his innocence, but a man trying to suppress damning evidence against him, notably the $90,000 they found in his freezer. That is an important legal right -- the police are not allowed to use illegally collected evidence -- but it hardly burnishes his claims of no wrongdoing.

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