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Foley Probe Not A Jefferson Replay

Missing Laptops, laptop computer over us flag
AP / CBS
This was written by CBS News producer Beverley Lumpkin.

Because Mark Foley is no longer a member of Congress, and because his personal inner-office has already been sealed, the Department of Justice is confident there will be no Constitutional clash like the one that is ongoing with Rep. William Jefferson, D-LA.

Jefferson has been under investigation for accepting bribes, although he has denied violating any law or taking any bribes. FBI agents came under sharp criticism from Congressional leaders when they searched Jefferson's Congressional office late one Saturday night last spring. Although an appeals court has ruled that the search did not violate the doctrine of Separation of Powers, many in Congress were infuriated by what they considered the Justice Department's high-handed attitude towards a separate branch of government.

In the Foley case, however, the House Counsel has already provided information to the Justice Department in terms of facts known about Foley, concerns that were raised about him, and when.

The "preservation letter" that went up to the Hill this morning was signed by U.S. Attorney Jeff Taylor and addressed to the House Counsel. The letter requested that the House Counsel ensure the preservation in Foley's office of all documentation, computers and electronic files.

The original letter from Speaker Hastert to the Justice Department did not say anything about cooperating with the investigation, but the House Counsel has given "verbal assurances of cooperation" and DOJ is satisfied that it will have no problem accessing any documents or records necessary.

The investigation currently is in the preliminary stages and, as reported earlier, is being conducted by the Washington Field Office working with the FBI/HQ Cybercrime unit, with guidance from the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, as well as the U.S. Attorney.

The Justice Department told CBSNews that in July, when Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) provided the "innocuous" e-mails to the FBI, they were heavily redacted. CREW adamantly denies that and says they provided an FBI agent with complete, unredacted e-mails.

The Justice Department also said that the FBI asked CREW to go back to its source and ask for more information so it could follow up, but CREW refused. That's why the FBI, Justuice said, did nothing further at that time. CREW says the FBI made no such follow-up requests for more information at any time. An FBI agent did place one clarifying phone call on the day CREW turned over the e-mails to double-check that Mark Foley was the congressman involved, CREW said.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story failed to present CREW's account. That was a mistake for which we apologize.