A federal appeals court has declined to reconsider a decision to allow federal investigators to sift through the private emails of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah as his corruption trial looms next year.
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Tuesday denied the Philadelphia Democrat's petition to rehear his arguments, which involve claiming congressional protection from interference from the executive branch.
At issue are seven years of correspondence on Fattah's Gmail account. In 2014, a federal grand jury subpoenaed documents from Fattah's office, including from his Gmail account, which he also used for work.
Fattah turned over some emails but objected to releasing others.
Lawyers for Congress sided with Fattah in his challenge that his emails were privileged under the "speech and debate" clause of the Constitution that protects lawmakers from criminal prosecution for their legislative actions.
In September, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit sided with federal investigators. Judge Julio M. Fuentes wrote that the clause was not an absolute shield from criminal investigations.
Some emails may be ruled inadmissible at trial, but that does not preclude investigators from obtaining the documents, Fuentes wrote.
Fattah's lawyer, Luther E. Weaver III, said Wednesday he needed to confer with his client as well as congressional lawyers before deciding whether to take their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fattah faces trial in May on charges that he accepted bribes from a lobbyist and used taxpayer money to enrich himself, his family, and close associates.