Conyers subpoenas Karl Rove over Justice Department scandal
Rove's attorney slams Judiciary Chairman
UPDATE (PDF): ROVE'S LAWYER RIDICULES SUBPOENA.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) issued a subpoena Thursday to former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove for testimony about politicization of the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, who was jailed for bribery in what was widely seen as a political prosecution.
In response, Rove's attorney Robert Luskin questioned why the subpoena was necessary and mocked Conyers in a letter copied to RAW STORY.
"I do not misunderstand either the Committee's procedures or the scope of its interest in Mr. Rove; nor, in light of your reported remarks about the need for 'someone' to 'kick his ass,' am I the least bit confused about the Committee's motives and intentions," Luskin wrote. "I confess, however, that I do not understand why the Committee is threating a subpoena to Mr. Rove for information related to the alleged 'politicization of the Department of Justice,' when, as the Committee is surely aware, Mr. Rove has already received a subpoena for the same subject matter from the Senate Judiciary Committee."
"I also do not understand why the Committee refuses to acknowledge that, in these matters, Mr. Rove is not a free agent," he adds. Read the letter here.
The subpoena comes on the heels of a letter from Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, who told the Judiciary Committee Wednesday that the president's former top advisor would refuse to testify voluntarily.
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Rove has failed to cooperate with our requests," Conyers said in a release. "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."
Reacting to the news on NBC, correspondent Pete Williams said that the Justice Department most likely won't enforce the subpoena.
Separately, Chairman Conyers recently received a letter from DOJ's Office of Professional Responibility (OPR) indicating that the office has opened an investigation into allegations of selective prosecution of Siegelman and others.
The subpoena issued Thursday orders Rove to testify before the House panel on July 10. He is expected to face questions about the White House's role in firing nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, a Democrat.
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers had negotiated with Rove's attorneys for more than a year over whether the former top political adviser to President Bush would testify voluntarily.
RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrova has reported extensively on the Siegelman case and related matters in a series titled The Permanent Republican Majority:
Part One – The Political Prisoner
Part Two – Exclusive interview with jailed governor’s daughter, Dana Siegelman
Part Three – Running Elections from the White House
Part Four – How Bush pick helped prosecute top Democrat-backed judge
Alabama station drops 60 Minutes expose on Don Siegelman prosecution
Interview with Dana Jill Simpson and alleged Rove smear campaign
Karl Rove’s Next Move: A million dollar home on Florida’s Emerald Coast
Part Five – Mississippi Justice: Bush US Attorney targeted my wife, supporters and friends
May 22, 2008
Mr. Robert D. Luskin
Patton Boggs LLP
2550 M Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037-1350
Dear Mr. Luskin:
We were disappointed to receive your May 21 letter, which fails to explain why Mr. Rove is willing to answer questions in writing for the House Judiciary Committee, and has spoken on the record to the media, but continues to refuse to testify voluntarily before the Committee on the politicization of the Department of Justice, including allegations regarding the prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman. Because of that continuing refusal, we enclose with this letter a subpoena for Mr. Rove’s appearance before the Committee’s Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee at 10:00 a.m. on July 10, 2008.
In light of specific statements in your letter, we want to clarify several points. Your letter is incorrect in suggesting that the enclosed subpoena will raise the same issues as the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subpoena to Mr. Rove and the pending lawsuit concerning our Committee’s subpoena to Harriet Miers. Both these matters focus on the firing of U.S. Attorneys in 2006 and efforts to mislead Congress and the public on that subject. Here, as we have made clear from the outset, the Siegelman case is a principal focus of our request for Mr. Rove to testify. In addition, unlike Harriet Miers, Mr. Rove has made a number of on-the-record comments to the media about the Siegelman case and the U.S. Attorney firings, extending far beyond "general denials of wrongdoing." There is no question that both the prior subpoenas to Mr. Rove and Ms. Miers should have been complied with. But it is even more clear that Mr. Rove should testify as we have now directed.
We would also dispute your contention that we are "provoking a gratuitous confrontation while the issues raised by the Committee’s request are being litigated in U.S. District Court or why the Committee refuses to consider a reasonable accommodation." There are a variety of mechanisms for resolution of any dispute between us, and we need not wait for resolution of separate and ongoing litigation to attempt to employ or consider those other mechanisms. We have also previously noted that we do not believe your proposal to respond in writing to written questions is reasonable or consistent with the precedents of this Committee.
Your letter also suggests that Mr. Rove is not a "free agent" and would follow the requests of the White House with respect to his testimony. Particularly in light of the factors discussed above, we hope that the White House will not take the position that Mr. Rove should not testify. Other former White House officials, including Sara Taylor and Scott Jennings who worked with Mr. Rove in the White House’s political office, have in fact testified in response to
congressional subpoenas, and dealt with questions of privilege on a question-by-question basis. Mr. Rove should follow the same course.
We should make clear, however, that Mr. Rove, as a private party not employed by the government, is himself responsible for the decision on how to respond to the enclosed subpoena, which is a legally binding directive that he appear before the Committee on July 10. In an analogous situation in the 1970s, when the White House attempted to instruct a private party, AT&T, not to comply with a House Subcommittee subpoena, AT&T "felt obligated to disregard those instructions and to comply with the subpoena," resulting in a lawsuit by the Administration seeking to enjoin such compliance.1 We very much hope that will not be necessary in this case, but we also hope that you will understand that Mr. Rove’s obligation, as a private party, is to seek to comply with the enclosed subpoena. Indeed, you appeared to recognize this yourself when you responded to an earlier media inquiry as to whether Mr. Rove would comply with such a subpoena by e-mailing "sure."
Finally, we want to make clear that we are very willing to meet with you and your client to discuss this matter. Please direct any questions or communications to the Judiciary Committee office, 2138 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (tel: 202-225-3951; fax: 202-225-7680).
John Conyers, Jr.
(with wire reports)