Invoking Obama, House Judiciary Chairman subpoenas Rove
John Byrne
Published: Monday January 26, 2009

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Update: Rove lawyer comments

Invoking President Barack Obama, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) has subpoenaed former Bush Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove about his alleged involved in the political prosecution of an Alabama governor and the firings of nine US Attorneys.

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 Administration’s politicization of the Department of Justice, including the US Attorney firings and the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman."

Rove's Washington, D.C. lawyer, Robert Luskin, did not return initial email and telephone requests for comment from The Washington Post. But in a statement published early Tuesday morning, he said, "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."

"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.'"

This is the second time Conyers has subpoenaed Rove. It's uncertain whether Rove will be compelled to testify, as Obama's attorney general has not yet been confirmed.

“I have said many times that I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court, and today’s action is an important step along the way,” Conyers said in a release. “Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it’s time for him to talk.”

The subpoena delegates authority to US marshals to enforce, like any Congressional subpoena, and was copied to Rove's Washington, D.C. attorney.

Conyers' Judiciary Committee sued for information regarding the firing of the US Attorneys last year, and his case was passed to the District of Columbia's Court of Appeals after a federal judge refused President Bush's claim of "absolute" executive immunity.

"Justice Department lawyers must file their latest position in the case with the appeals court by Feb. 18," according to the Post; "that document is being anticipated as offering a hint for how broadly Obama will interpret executive authority and whether he will change course."