Three weeks after federal investigators raided homes and businesses linked to two sitting House Members, FBI Director Robert Mueller reiterated Wednesday that the bureau is committed to rooting out wrongdoing by public officials. [IMGCAP(1)]
At the Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters and editors, Mueller said that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, “Public corruption has been our No. 1 priority on the criminal side.”
Mueller explained that if the FBI was not investigating government officials, “then public corruption would not be uncovered,” and he later added that on this subject, the FBI “bring[s] something to the table that state and local [law enforcement] do not.”
In mid-April, the FBI executed raids related to investigations of GOP Reps. John Doolittle (Calif.) and Rick Renzi (Ariz.). And during the 109th Congress, Republican Reps. Duke Cunningham (Calif.) and Bob Ney (Ohio) were both jailed after pleading guilty to corruption charges. A handful of other probes of sitting lawmakers are ongoing.
Some critics have suggested that the Bush administration’s controversial decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys was related to their performance in investigating public corruption issues. Asked whether political pressure was brought to bear during the Cunningham probe or during other investigations, Mueller said, “I have not found any instance where there has been any political influence brought to bear on any particular cases.”
Asked whether he had any regrets about the way the FBI handled the controversial raid last year of Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-La.) House office, Mueller said only, “I’d refer you to the court papers on that.”
— Ben Pershing