Lawyer: In denying role in Siegelman case, Rove 'actually incriminated himself'
Although Karl Rove has repeatedly refused to testify under oath before the House Judiciary Committee about the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, he has now sent a letter to a Republican member of the committee denying any involvement in the case.
In that letter, Rove writes, "I have never communicated, either directly or indirectly, with Justice Department or Alabama officials about the investigation, indictment, potential prosecution, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of Governor Siegelman, or about any other matter related to his case, nor have I asked any other individual to communicate about these matters on my behalf. I have never attempted, either directly or indirectly, to influence these matters."
"Sounds like a firm denial," began MSNBC's Don Abrams in commenting on the letter. However, he immediately pointed out that "Rove did not address specifically the question of whether he contacted any non-government officials about the case -- and specifically, whether he ever spoke to his old friend Bill Canary ... an influential Republican in Alabama who just happens to be married to the US Attorney Leura Canary whose office brought the case against Siegelman."
Abrams then asked Siegelman himself about Rove's charge that he "has not offered a single piece of evidence that I played any role whatsoever in his case" and that "before giving credence to Siegelman's baseless allegations of impropriety, the committee should require Siegelman to substantiate his allegations."
"We know that this Department of Justice has been political," Siegelman replied. "David Iglesias ... was fired because he refused to file a case against a Democrat right before an election. And I know that my case was politically motivated."
"It's a fair question about selective prosecution," Abrams agreed. "But you haven't responded yet to the question specifically that Rove lays out ... that you have not offered a single piece of evidence with regard to your case that Karl Rove was involved."
"There has been sworn testimony before the United States Congress Judiciary Committee by a Republican lawyer," Siegelman answered, referring to whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson.
Abrams noted that Rove has raised questions about Simpson's credibility. "But does that change the fact that he hasn't testified in front of Congress?" he asked, turning for comment to former House Judiciary Committee counsel Julian Epstein.
"I think what the Republicans tried to do with this letter is to give Rove an excuse for not coming before the [Judiciary] Committee," Epstein replied. "'Let's send him a softball letter, he can send us evasive answers, and then we can pretend that he's actually responded to the Committee.'"
Epstein further pointed out that Rove "actually incriminated ... himself in the answer, because he distinctly refused to answer the question about whether he had contacted other individuals ... about this case. Did he contact the husband of the prosecutor? Did he contact the son of [Governor Bob Riley]?"
"Even Republicans off camera will agree that the case on Don Siegelman was a case that was fixed," Epstein continued. "I think what will happen with the Judiciary Committee now is they're going to proceed with this, they'll go in and file civil contempt in a federal court. I don't think this will get resolved in the next six months ... but I think this will get resolved at the end of the day."
"The Bill Canary thing, I think, is the key question here," Abrams emphasized in conclusion.
This video is from MSNBC's Verdict, broadcast July 24, 2008.