The videotaping of the payoff was done at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington, Virginia which is the same hotel at which Linda Tripp audio taped a conversation with Monica Lewinsky at the behest of Ken Starr.
TEACHING POINT: If you are preparing to do something illegal and the person with whom you are conspiring suggests you do the deal at the Ritz-Carlton in Arlington … Don't.
The FBI has permanent camera positions and microphone locations there.
Senators and Representatives … shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest … and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.
It is the fact of having taken a bribe, not the act the bribe is intended to influence, which is the subject of the prosecution and the speech-or-debate clause interposes no obstacle to this type of prosecution.
The Feds alerted the Capitol Police by perhaps as much as an hour prior to showing up on their doorstep. The cops called House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood, who called the Speakers' legal counsel, Ted VanDerMeid. The FBI showed up with badges, paperwork and whatever they would have needed to open the locked office door at 2113 Rayburn. (Someone in the House hierarchy had a spare key so there was, unfortunately, no need for a repeat of the Battering-Ram-Against-The-Church-Door scene from the Hunchback of Notre Dame.) VanDerMeid called the Speaker's chief of staff Scott Palmer who, by midnight, was on the phone to the Executive Branch representing the concerns of the Legislative Branch. As of this writing, it is not clear when Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi became aware of all the activity. Fifteen hours after it began, the search was done.
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