Capitol Police Investigating Porn Video Shot in Senate Committee Room – JONATHAN TURLEY

“Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof; or

Whoever receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; but if the value of such property in the aggregate, combining amounts from all the counts for which the defendant is convicted in a single case, does not exceed the sum of $1,000, he shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”

The Capitol police could argue that this constitutes purloining or using government property for personal purposes.

The key factor is the fact that this videotape was made with the apparent intent to publish or show others. Sex in congressional offices — by both members and staff — have long been known to occur on Capitol Hill. Yet, this was a public hearing room, albeit closed at the time, and a tape made for what appears public viewing.

That brings us back to trespass. The question may be whether this was access under legal authority for a staffer. The Capitol police can argue that access to a staff position does not mean a license for entry for any purpose. Under 18 U.S.C. 1752, trespass covers anyone who “knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so.”

Does a staffer have legal authority to enter any hearing room for any purpose? That could be a defense raised by counsel, but it would seem likely that any access is premised on an official function.

The pressure on the Capitol police is likely to be considerable in the coming days. Only recently, House members Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Jamie Raskin claimed that house rules were broken by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene showing  Hunter Biden and a woman in a revealing picture, though he was purportedly wearing a swimsuit.  Raskin objected that it would constitute a “pornographic exhibits that might not be suitable for children watching.”

While this was not a public hearing, those objections now seem almost puritanical in light what just occurred over in the Senate hearing room.

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