May 2008

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House Committee Subpoenas Rove

By Justin Gardner

We've detailed the seemingly politically motivated prosecution and conviction of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman's in February and March of this year, and now it appears that the House Judiciary Committee wants to put Rove in the hot seat to answer questions about whether he had a hand in it.

Here's the scoop...

Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the committee chairman, said the subpoena was necessary because Mr. Rove had explicitly declined an invitation to appear voluntarily. Mr. Conyers and fellow committee Democrats say they want to question Mr. Rove about the dismissals of several federal prosecutors and ask whether he knows anything about the decision to prosecute former Gov. Donald E. Siegelman of Alabama, a Democrat.

Mr. Siegelman, who was convicted on a bribery charge, was released from prison in March pending an appeal after an appeals court ruled that he had raised "substantial questions" about his case.

Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, in a letter to Mr. Conyers this week, said the chairman was "provoking a gratuitous confrontation." Mr. Luskin asserted that Mr. Rove would not appear because he had been directed not to do so by the White House. Although Mr. Rove has left the White House and is now a political commentator, Mr. Luskin said that Mr. Rove "in these matters is not a free agent" and must comply with instructions from the White House not to testify.

So will he agree to testify? Well, his lawyer is signaling that the White House will try and make the "executive privilege" case, but the problem with that is Rove's on the record as saying he never had any conversations with anybody in the White House about this case. So he shouldn't be able to claim "executive privilege", right?

And to the point about being on the record...

On April 7, MSNBC anchor Dan Abrams reported that Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said Rove would agree to testify if Congress issues a subpoena to him as part of an investigation into the Siegelman case.

Ten days later, committee members invited Rove to appear, citing among other things Rove's interview with GQ magazine. In that interview, Rove hurled insults at CBS News for airing a 60 Minutes segment on the Siegelman case, called his chief accuser a "lunatic" -- but didn't specifically deny any of the accusations.

This doesn't look good for Karl. Justin blogs regularly at Donklephant