We Cannot Sacrifice Governance While Honoring The Law

As a Member of Congress and as the former Attorney General of California, I have devoted myself to the adoption and enforcement of criminal laws in order to protect law-abiding citizens. It is my view that public corruption constitutes the gravest possible violation of the public trust. I have prosecuted elected officials for having breached the confidence placed in them by the voters in our state.

It is therefore my clear desire to see the law enforced to the fullest extent in any public corruption case. However, those of us who have been given the power to prosecute have a commensurate responsibility to respect the very law we have been tasked to carry out. We must keep in mind that the execution of the warrant in this case entailed the search of a Congressional office. It is not the personal office of a criminal defendant, but rather a facility within the larger complex which comprises the House of Representatives. It is the violation of the integrity of a co-equal branch of government which is at issue.

There was absolutely no reason that notice could not have been given to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to ensure that a search could be conducted while the same time securing the protection of papers and effects unrelated to the criminal investigation. The presence of House officials would have allowed the search to be conducted while preventing the possible compromise of personal information concerning constituents and other materials beyond the scope of the investigation. It is in this respect that the lack of any deference for the institution of the House of Representatives was equally a violation of the people we are elected to serve.

The extraordinary nature of this action taken by United States Department of Justice is evidenced by the fact that in 218 years of the history of our nation, there has never been a breach of this kind. The vigorous prosecution of criminal conduct does not require an abuse of institutional respect for co-equal branches of government which is inherent to the structure of constitutional governance.