Rep. Jefferson fires back

After months of silence about a federal corruption probe targeting him, Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) issued a 777-word statement yesterday harshly criticizing the government’s investigation, reiterating his declaration of innocence and his determination to continue to serve in Congress, and asserting that he would take “full responsibility for any crimes that I committed if that were the case.”

“I wish to say emphatically that, in all of my actions here under scrutiny, that I never intended to dishonor my office, or you, the public, and I certainly did not sell my office,” he stated. He suggested prosecutors are motivated by something other than “the ends of justice” and brought up examples of two black former members of Congress who were charged by federal prosecutors and later found not guilty.

He referred obliquely to the plea agreements recently made by a former aide and a business associate: “Some of our friends have succumbed to the enormous pressure that the government has brought to bear. ... We pray that God will forgive them.”