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Rep. Jefferson a Stickler on Courthouse Food Rules

Mostly, Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) was humble Wednesday as he prepared to give his most extensive testimony to date about his federal corruption indictment. Except for one knee-slapping moment in an elevator with some journalists covering the court hearing, including one saucy network television producer who gets all the credit for breaking the ice.

During a break from the hearing, most folks in the ninth-floor courtroom at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria -- including Jefferson -- rushed down to the second-floor café for beverages and food. When it was time to go back up, Jefferson found himself negotiating for elevator space with four reporters, one of whom was particularly nervous about breaking the "no food or drink" policy upstairs.

She hesitated, saying something about not wanting to break the rules. And there was Jefferson, a man facing 16 counts of bribery, money laundering and other corruption charges, chivalrously holding the elevator door while the reporter, Susan Crabtree of The Hill newspaper, contemplated her life as a courthouse rule breaker.

Actually, it was Jefferson who raised the question of whether food was allowed upstairs when he saw Crabtree and the others with their bevies and snacks.

"It was definitely a little tense," Fox News producer Molly Hooper says of the absurdly ironic moment.

That's when she decided the ice must be broken. Ever nervy, Hooper urged her colleague to throw caution to the wind and hop aboard the elevator with her snack. And she turned to Jefferson for approval, saying, "What are they going to do, indict us?"

Without missing a beat, Jefferson smiled and said, "You never know."

Hooper says she and the three other journalists and Jefferson "were just howling on the way up."

Baton Rouge Advocate reporter Gerry Shields, who has been covering the Jefferson corruption investigation, confirmed "they were laughing their heads off" when he saw them spill out of the elevator on the 9th floor.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  January 18, 2008; 4:32 PM ET
 
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Comments

when Jefferson hears "food", he thinks "$$$$$"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

See, this is why D.C. is not very funny, and I don't mean that in a sanctimoniuous, "this is a serious case" kind of way. It's just that "what are they going to do- indict us" doesn't really warrant "howling" laughter. When I saw the headline and started to read the story, I thought sure that Jefferson was going to tell the reporters "Don't worry- you can keep it in my fridge."

Posted by: Andrew | January 19, 2008 2:09 AM | Report abuse

I'll bet that was just hilarious. When Bill Jefferson gets out of jail, maybe he can go on the stand-up circuit, eventually do Letterman. A whole new career awaits, congressman.

Posted by: Joe Sabbagh | January 19, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the Beltway should look into things that matter like reduction of global poverty. Just recently Obama introduced the Global Poverty Act in the Senate, but we do not hear him speak much about that type of foreign policy. According to the Borgen Project, 19 billion dollars would eliminate starvation globally.

Posted by: clnygard | January 21, 2008 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the Beltway should look into things that matter like reduction of global poverty. Just recently Obama introduced the Global Poverty Act in the Senate, but we do not hear him speak much about that type of foreign policy. According to the Borgen Project, 19 billion dollars would eliminate starvation globally.

Posted by: clnygard | January 21, 2008 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to M.L.King day..
Peace..

Posted by: harveyharv | January 21, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

It is so stressful in this day and age. A little laughing and sense of humor are a must. Let there be peace and let it begin with me. I love to laugh!

Posted by: Donna Graham | January 21, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I have not been following this particular case... BECAUSE I predict that Jefferson will get off scott free..

He is above the law..and will continue to reap the benefits of his position. The Black Cacuas will insure that he is not jailed or removed from office.

Posted by: Bob | January 21, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Just remember - paper with presidents' pictures on it doesn't have many calories and isn't considered "food" . . . even if it IS kept in the freezer.

Posted by: GWP | January 22, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Once again reporters think they're above the law:).

Posted by: smiley | January 22, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Am I missing something? That was funny? There's nothing funny about what that man did. No wonder the country is in such a mess. It's time we brought back integrity to our government as well as to our own lives. Everyone pays lip service to that idea but few seem willing to make the tough choices. Cracking jokes about indictments with a deliberately criminal shyster like Jefferson only highlights the shallowness of our characters.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | January 22, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

does his demeanor mean the fix is in for him to get off?

Posted by: dwight | January 23, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

clnygard, interstate highways are not generally concerned with global poverty.

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