Nadler: If Rove won't testify, he's 'presumably' jail-bound
According to Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), should Karl Rove continue refusing to give testimony, the House of Representatives will "presumably" hold him in contempt, landing Rove in jail.
When House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) issued a Monday subpoena against former Bush Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove regarding his alleged involved in the political prosecution of an Alabama governor, and the firings of nine US Attorneys, he likely expected a fight.
And when Rove went on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News Factor Wednesday, the right-wing editorialist even jokingly expected a flight, and offered the embattled politico a "place to hide out."
"We have all kinds of tunnels and places we can put you ..." began O'Reilly.
"I don't need to hide," exclaimed Rove. "I don't need to hide."
But if Rep. Nadler is correct, and Rove doesn't appear before the Judiciary Committee, he'll likely need to pack.
Rove's Washington, D.C. lawyer, Robert Luskin, said in a Tuesday statement, "It's generally agreed that former presidents retain executive privilege as to matters occurring during their term. We'll solicit the views of the new White House counsel and, if there is a disagreement, assume that the matter will be resolved among the courts, the president and the former president."
Joining MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Thursday night, Rep. Nadler, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, shot down Rove's legal wrangling on the issue of executive privilege, and stated rather bluntly the process to follow.
"If he refuses to show up, we're going to have to vote a contempt citation," which would require the ballots of the House at large, he said. The Democratic-led Hosue would "presumably" carry the measure.
The contempt citation is then given to a US Attorney with the Department of Justice, said Nadler quoting the law, "whose duty it shall be to deliver it to the grand jury.
"In other words, he must enforce and prosecute the subpoena. Now, President Bush, as in so many other things, simply ignored the law and instructed the US Attorney not to obey the law, and not to enforce the subpoena. I imagine President Obama will not do the same."
The subpoena, approved by an earlier vote of the House, was issued pursuant to "authority granted in H.R. 5 (111th Congress), and calls for Mr. Rove to appear at deposition on Monday, February 2, 2009."
Specifically, it enjoins Rove "to testify regarding his role in the Bush Administrationís politicization of the Department of Justice, including the US Attorney firings and the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman."
Siegelman, who was convicted of corruption charges in 2006, was released on bail last April pending appeal after media reports -- including those of Raw Story -- revealed myriad irregularities surrounding his prosecution.
Among the revelations: the husband of the US Attorney who prosecuted Siegelman was a close associate of former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and worked as campaign manager for one of Siegelman's gubernatorial opponents. An Alabama Republican whistleblower said that Siegelman was deliberately targeted and fingered Rove, asserting that he'd said he'd push the Justice Department to end Siegelman's political career.
"Chairman Conyers and the House Judiciary Committee's subpoena of Karl Rove
gives hope to those who want to know the extent of Karl Rove's abuse of
power and his misuse of the Department of Justice as a way to win elections," Siegelman told Raw Story on Monday evening. "Chairman Conyers' action gives meaning to the change that has been ushered in by the election of President Obama."
Asked if he had communicated with the Obama administration on the matter, Nadler said that is "premature," then backtracked to correct Olbermann's understanding of what follows a contempt vote.
"Normal contempt is, you simply arrest him," he said. "The grand jury indicts him, you arrest him for contempt and you put him in jail until he is prepared to testify, to obey the subpoena."
Nadler added that there is no precedent in US history -- save for President Bush's one-time Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and former Bush White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten -- where a presidential adviser has been granted executive privilege when Congress wished to speak with them. He also took the opportunity to call out Miers and Bolten as facing similar contempt citations.
"Mr. Rove has previously refused to appear in response to a Judiciary Committee subpoena, claiming that even former presidential advisers cannot be compelled to testify before Congress," Conyers' office wrote in a release. "That 'absolute immunity' position was supported by then-President Bush, but it has been rejected by U.S. District Judge John Bates and President Obama has previously dismissed the claim as 'completely misguided.'"
Ultimately, explained Nadler, the outcome of the process will be Karl Rove going to court and being sentenced to jail until he decides to testify.
"There is simply no ability to thumb your nose at Congress and say I'm not gonna show up," he said.
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Jan. 29, 2009.
Download video via RawReplay.com