Karl Rove Refuses To Testify To Congress

July 10, 2008

Former White House adviser Karl Rove defied a congressional subpoena and refused to testify Thursday about allegations of political pressure at the Justice Department, including whether he influenced the prosecution of a former Democratic governor of Alabama.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, chairman of a House subcommittee, ruled with backing from fellow Democrats on the panel that Rove was breaking the law by refusing to cooperate – perhaps the first step toward holding him in contempt of Congress.

Lawmakers subpoenaed Rove in May in an effort to force him to talk about whether he played a role in prosecutors’ decisions to pursue cases against Democrats, such as former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, or in firing federal prosecutors considered disloyal to the Bush administration.

Rove had been scheduled to appear at the House Judiciary subcommittee hearing Thursday morning. A placard with his name sat in front of an empty chair at the witness table, with a handful of protesters behind it calling for Rove to be arrested.

A decision on whether to pursue contempt charges now goes to the full Judiciary Committee and ultimately to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

House Republicans called Thursday’s proceedings a political stunt and said if Democrats truly wanted information they would take Rove up on an offer he made to discuss the matter informally.

The House already has voted to hold two of President Bush’s confidants in contempt for failing to cooperate with its inquiry into whether the administration fired nine federal prosecutors in 2006 for political reasons.

The case, involving White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, is in federal court and may not be resolved before Bush’s term ends in January.

The White House has cited executive privilege, arguing that internal administration communications are confidential and that Congress cannot compel officials to testify.

Rove says he is bound to follow the White House’s guidance, although he has offered to answer questions specifically on the Siegelman case – but only with no transcript taken and not under oath.

Democrats have rejected the offer because the testimony would not be sworn and, they say, could create a confusing record.

Rove has insisted publicly that he never tried to influence Justice Department decisions and was not even aware of the Siegelman prosecution until it landed in the news.

Siegelman – an unusually successful Democrat in a heavily Republican state – was charged with accepting and concealing a contribution to his campaign to start a state education lottery, in exchange for appointing a hospital executive to a regulatory board.

He was sentenced last year to more than seven years in prison but was released in March when a federal appeals court ruled Siegelman had raised “substantial questions of fact and law” in his appeal.

Siegelman and others have alleged the prosecution was pushed by GOP operatives – including Rove, a longtime Texas strategist who was heavily involved in Alabama politics before working at the White House. A former Republican campaign volunteer from Alabama told congressional attorneys last year that she overheard conversations suggesting that Rove pressed Justice officials in Washington to prosecute Siegelman.

The career prosecutors who handled Siegelman’s case have insisted that Rove had nothing to do with it, emphasizing that the former governor was convicted by a jury.

Story by Ben Evans

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Former Bush Spokesman Says President Used Propaganda

May 28, 2008

The spokesman who defended President Bush’s policies through Hurricane Katrina and the early years of the Iraq war is now blasting his former employers, saying the Bush administration became mired in propaganda and political spin and at times played loose with the truth.

In excerpts from a 341-page book to be released Monday, Scott McClellan writes on Iraq that Bush “and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.”

“[I]n this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security,” McClellan wrote.

McClellan also sharply criticizes the administration on its handling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

“One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush‘s presidency,” he wrote. “Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term.”

Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino said the White House would not comment Tuesday because they haven’t seen the book.

Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to Bush, said advisers to the president should speak up when they have policy concerns.

“Scott never did that on any of these issues as best I can remember or as best as I know from any of my White House colleagues,” said Townsend, now a CNN contributor. “For him to do this now strikes me as self-serving, disingenuous and unprofessional.”

Fox News contributor and former White House adviser Karl Rove said on that network Tuesday that the excerpts from the book he’s read sound more like they were written by a “left-wing blogger” than his former colleague.

In a brief phone conversation with CNN Tuesday evening, McClellan made clear that he stands behind the accuracy of his book. McClellan said he cannot give on-the-record quotes yet because of an agreement with his publisher.

Early in the book, which CNN obtained late Tuesday, McClellan wrote that he believes he told untruths on Bush’s behalf in the case of CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose identity was leaked to the media.

Rove and fellow White House advisers Elliot Abrams and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby were accused of leaking the name of Plame — whose husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, had gone public with charges the Bush administration had “twisted” facts to justify the war in Iraq.

Libby was convicted last year of lying to a grand jury and federal agents investigating the leak. Bush commuted his 30-month prison term, calling it excessive. At the time, McClellan called the three “good individuals” and said he spoke to them before telling reporters they were not involved.

“I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood,” he wrote. “It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the president effectively.”

McClellan wrote he didn’t realize what he said was untrue until reporters began digging up details of the case almost two years later.

A former spokesman for Bush when he was governor of Texas, McClellan was named White House press secretary in 2003, replacing Ari Fleischer. McClellan had previously been a deputy press secretary and was the traveling spokesman for the Bush campaign during the 2000 election.

He announced he was resigning in April 2006 at a news conference with Bush.

“One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas talking about the good old days of his time as the press secretary,” Bush said at that conference. “And I can assure you, I will feel the same way then that I feel now, that I can say to Scott, job well done.”

This story was found @ CNN.com

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Rove Subpoened By Both House and Senate Judiciary Committees

May 22, 2008

The House Judiciary Committee served a subpoena on former top Bush aide, Karl Rove, on Thursday to force him to testify in regards to allegations that the Department of Justice had dismissed U.S. attorneys based on party affiliation.

The committee ordered Rove to appear July 10 to testify on claims that he was a key player in pressing the Justice Department to dismiss some U.S. attorneys and to prosecute Democrats.

According to a wriitten statement from Chairman John Conyers, the subpoena had been authorized earlier but delivered it Thursday only after Rove’s attorney said he would not appear voluntarily: “It is unfortunate that Mr. Rove has failed to cooperate with our requests,” Conyers said. “Although he does not seem the least bit hesitant to discuss these very issues weekly on cable television and in the print news media, Mr. Rove and his attorney have apparently concluded that a public hearing room would not be appropriate. Unfortunately, I have no choice today but to compel his testimony on these very important matters.”

In a response letter dated Thursday and addressed to Conyers, Robert D. Luskin, Rove’s attorney, noted that his client has received a subpoena on the same issue from the Senate Judiciary Committee: “While the committee has the authority to issue a subpoena, it is hard to see what this will accomplish, apart from a ‘Groundhog Day’ replay of the same issues that are already the subject of litigation.”

Luskin also added that “issues of executive privilege and separation of powers” could perhaps limit Rove’s testimony.

In the written reply sent to Rove’s lawyer, Conyers said the two committees are focusing on different matters, with the House committee focusing on the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat.

Conyers added that other former White House officials have testified under subpoena in the past and have dealt with issues of executive privilege on a case-by-case basis. That excuse is not likely to work this time.

“Mr. Rove should follow the same course,” he said.

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Subpoena Karl Rove!

May 2, 2008

The House Judiciary Committee threatened to subpoena former White House adviser Karl Rove if he does not agree by May 12 to testify about former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s corruption case. Karl Rove is speaking to the media about the matter almost as if to spite the Congressional inquiry, the House Judiciary Committee says. In a letter to Rove’s attorney, the committee’s Democrats said it was “completely unacceptable” that he has rejected the panel’s request while discussing the matter in the media.

“We can see no justification for his refusal to speak on the record to the committee,” the letter states. “We urge you and your client to reconsider … or we will have no choice but to consider the use of compulsory process.”

The invesitgation of the committee stems from the question of whether or not Republican appointees at the Justice Department influenced Siegelman’s prosecution to greatly decrease the chances of his re-election. It is part of a broader inquiry into whether or not U.S. attorneys were terminated from their positions for not aggressively going after Democrats.

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