Rove refuses subpoena, leaves country
Update: Conyers gives Rove 5 days to comply before pursuing 'all available options'
Former White House adviser Karl Rove has ignored a subpoena from congressional Democrats to testify about allegations of political pressure at the Justice Department and his alleged role in the prosecution of a former governor of Alabama.
A House subcommittee voted 7-1 Thursday to reject Rove's claim that executive privilege freed him from an obligation to testify, leaving open the possibility the Republican political guru will be held in contempt.
During the hearing, Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) revealed that Rove was out of the country. According to the liberal blog ThinkProgress, Rove's lawyer's confirmed that Rove was out of the country on a trip scheduled long before the subpoena was sent.
Karl Rove failed to appear before the House Judiciary subcommittee. His lawyer revealed that he was out of the country.
This video is from U.S. House, broadcast July 10, 2008.
Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers seemed hesitant to rush forward with contempt proceedings Thursday, though. In a letter to Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, Conyers expressed his disappointment and insisted that Rove comply with the subpoena, which he has already flatly refused to do, before the committee would be forced to take drastic action.
"This letter is to formally notify you that we must insist on compliance with the subpoena and urge you to reconsider your position... . Please let us know no later than Tuesday July, 15 if Mr. Rove will comply with the subpoena, or we will proceed to consider all other appropriate recourse," wrote Conyers and Rep. Linda Sanchez, chair of the Judiciary subcommittee Rove snubbed Thursday.
Democrats subpoenaed Rove in May to force him to talk about whether he was involved in firing federal prosecutors or sought to influence prosecutors' decisions - including in the corruption case against former Democratic Alabama governor Don Siegelman, who was convicted on corruption charges in 2006. Democrats are investigating whether Rove encouraged the Justice Department to pursue the case.
"By failing to appear in defiance of a subpoena, Mr. Rove, his attorney and the White House are trying to run away from an investigation that's about one thing: ensuring justice is dispensed free of fear or favor," S�nchez said in a news release. "Mr. Rove is not above the law and Congress will assert its constitutional role to serve as a check on the power of the executive branch."
He had been scheduled to appear at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing Thursday morning. In the same statement released Thursday afternoon, Conyers said Rove's absence was "an insult to the American people" and vowed to "seriously consider all available options"; nowhere in the Democrats' statement nor their letter was contempt explicitly mentioned.
Last week, Sanchez and Judiciary Chairman John Conyers threatened to hold Rove in contempt if he followed through on his promise to defy their subpoena. It's unclear whether they will follow through on that threat.
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 federal prosecutors for political reasons.
The case, involving White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, is now in court. The White House maintains that its staffers' internal communications are confidential.
With wire reports