Sources: Philadelphia mayor 'subject' of federal probe
Listening device found above his desk in FBI's possession
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two government sources told CNN on Friday that Philadelphia Mayor John Street is a 'subject' of an investigation into allegations of public corruption.
The revelation comes after Philadelphia police discovered a bug planted in the ceiling above the mayor's desk this week.
Street insists he is not the target of a federal investigation but there is an important distinction between the term 'target' and 'subject.'
The U.S. attorney's office uses the term 'target' only when a grand jury has been impaneled. 'Subjects' of an investigation are those who are being investigated and can merely fall within the scope of an investigation. They may never face charges or a grand jury.
Street said "it has been confirmed by the U.S. attorney that I'm not the target of any federal investigation, and that's very important to me."
At one point, Street said, "I know the bad guy in these investigations is the target, and I am not the target."
The electronic listening device found Tuesday had been planted by the FBI, a senior federal government source and two law enforcement sources have told CNN. Police discovered the device during a routine security check.
The FBI has not confirmed that it placed the device in the mayor's office but has retained possession of the bug.
Federal law enforcement sources told CNN on Friday that Attorney General John Ashcroft and other top political officials at the Justice Department had no involvement in the decision to plant the electronic bug.
CNN legal commentator Jeffrey Toobin, a former federal prosecutor, said he could not conceive of an investigation that would bug the office of a mayor without the attorney general's knowledge.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell slammed the FBI's public handling of the matter, and called on federal officials to stand before TV cameras and talk frankly about the probe.
The FBI's only comment has been to say it does not believe the bug "has anything to do" with the tight re-election battle Street is facing. Any other comment is prevented by "Department of Justice guidelines and federal law," an FBI spokeswoman said.
Street, a Democrat, is campaigning for re-election November 4 in a close race against Republican Sam Katz, whom he beat four years ago in a close race.
Street said the bug's "timing is very suspicious.
"I'm concerned about the potential political implications of the whole thing. Yes, I am concerned. But this is a law enforcement agency that has the right to do what it thinks is in the best interests of its investigation, and there's not much I can do about it."
In addition to the bug, Street said, investigators have taken his handheld e-mail device.
CNN correspondents Terry Frieden and Kelli Arena contributed to this report.