WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court has allowed Rep. William Jefferson to review all the documents taken from his office by the FBI in a May search of his office that stems from an ongoing bribery investigation.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia returned the case to the U.S. District Court and ordered that Jefferson have two days to review copies of the material seized, which includes more than a dozen computer hard drives and two boxes of paper documents.
This would allow the Louisiana Democrat to say which documents are legislative in nature in the hopes of preventing them from being considered by the courts in any further action regarding the bribery case.
The district court also must perform its own review of the documents to determine their admissibility.
It was not initially clear when the district court would complete its review. And for the time being, the appeals court is preventing all access to investigators to the material collected in the search.
The appeals court earlier this week halted access to the information while it takes time to consider Jefferson's challenge of the legality of the search on his office.
Jefferson has been under investigation since March 2005 for allegedly using his position to promote the sale of telecommunications equipment and services offered by iGate, a Louisville-based firm, that sought contracts with Nigeria, Ghana and other African nations.
In return for his help, Jefferson allegedly demanded stock and cash payments. The congressman has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing.
The overnight search on May 20 — which lasted 18 hours — was part of a 16-month international bribery investigation of Jefferson, who allegedly accepted $100,000 from a telecommunications businessman, $90,000 of which was later recovered in a freezer in the congressman's Louisiana home.
The search kicked off a constitutional battle over separation of powers, bringing many fellow lawmakers to Jefferson's side on the grounds that the Justice Department, and the administration as a whole, overstepped its bounds by conducting the search without proper warning.
FOX News' Ian McCaleb and The Associated Press contributed to this report.