WASHINGTON – Attorneys for Rep. William Jefferson filed a motion Tuesday to stay U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan's ruling to release to investigators documents and hard drives seized by the FBI in a raid of the Louisiana Democrat's office last May.
They want the judge to stop Department of Justice attorneys and FBI investigators from poring through Jefferson's materials until an appeal is decided by the District of Colombia Court of Appeals as to whether the FBI's search of the office was legal.
The motion for a stay was filed with and will be decided by Hogan, making it unlikely he will impose an injunction on his own ruling. Jefferson's attorneys say if Hogan denies the stay, they will also appeal that to the D.C. Appeals Court.
Jefferson's office on Capitol Hill was searched on May 20-21 as part of a 17-month bribery investigation into whether the congressman used his position to promote the sale of telecommunications equipment and services offered by iGate, a Louisville, Ky.-based firm, that sought contracts with Nigeria, Ghana and other African nations. In return for his help, Jefferson allegedly demanded stock and cash payments.
Jefferson has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing. He wants several computer hard drives, floppy disks and two boxes of paper documents returned to his office.
Hogan ruled on Monday that lawmakers' congressional offices are not barred from searches since members of Congress are bound by the same laws as ordinary citizens.
In a 28-page opinion, Hogan dismissed arguments by Jefferson and a bipartisan group of House leaders that the raid violated the Constitution's protections against intimidation of elected officials.
Hogan, who signed off on the search warrant before the FBI raid, acknowledged the "unprecedented" nature of the case. But he said the lawmakers' "sweeping" theory of legislative privilege "would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime."
Justice Department officials said Tuesday they were pleased that Jefferson's legal team filed the stay request with Hogan. One senior official told FOX News that now that they are certain Hogan will be the one considering the stay request, they are "confident" it will be denied.
FOX News' Ian McCaleb and Molly Hooper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.