Editorial from The New York Times:
Last year, Karl Rove defied a Congressional subpoena ordering him to testify about the politically driven hiring and firing of United States attorneys. The House Judiciary Committee has now issued another subpoena. Congress and the Obama administration should do everything they can to compel him to testify.
Americans deserve a full accounting. Monica Goodling, a top aide to Alberto Gonzales, admitted that she hired lawyers for nonpartisan jobs based on their politics. The Justice Department’s inspector general found that Bradley Schlozman, the onetime head of the civil rights division, politicized his staff and made false statements to Congress. Other witnesses have told investigators that prosecutors were allowed to keep their jobs or were fired based on whether they brought cases that helped Republicans win elections.
Mr. Rove argues that he is protected by executive privilege. Such privilege is narrow. It applies mainly to communications closely tied to the president and must yield when prosecutors have a strong need for information about a possible crime. His claim is particularly weak because many of the communications he would be asked about do not involve the president. There is also evidence that crimes were committed at the highest ranks of government. He is no longer a presidential aide.
On the campaign trail, Barack Obama was skeptical of sweeping claims of executive privilege. We hope that he will show the same skepticism now that he is in the White House. The scandals of the Bush Justice Department will not be put to rest until all of Mr. Bush’s aides who have been subpoenaed provide Congress with the information it needs, in public and under oath.
From TPM Muckraker:
Karl Rove will cooperate with a federal criminal inquiry underway into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys and has already spoken to investigators in a separate, internal DOJ investigation into the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, his attorney said in an interview.
The Justice Department’s Inspector General and its Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) said in a report released last September detailing their earlier probe of the firings of the U.S. attorneys that their investigation was severely “hindered” by the refusal by Rove and other senior Bush administration officials to cooperate with the probe.
Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, said that Rove, however, will cooperate with a federal criminal probe of the firings being led by Nora Dannehy, the Acting U.S. Attorney for Connecticut who was selected by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey to lead the investigation. Dannehy has recently empaneled a federal grand jury to hear evidence in the matter.
She was selected by Mukasey? Forgive me if I’m not wildly enthusiastic.
Luskin told me that Rove had earlier not cooperated with the Inspector General and OPR probe into the firings because “it was not his [Karl’s] call… it was not up to us decide.” Luskin said that Rove was directed by the Bush White House counsel’s office not to cooperate with the Inspector General and OPR.
Justice’s Inspector General and OPR in their investigation could not compel testimony from witnesses other than that of current Justice Department employees. The two Justice Department watchdog agencies also cannot initiate criminal investigations.
But both the Inspector General and OPR can refer allegations of criminal wrongdoing to the Attorney General, who can then name a criminal prosecutor or special prosecutor to build on the earlier investigations.
Glenn A. Fine, the Inspector General, and H. Marshall Jarrett, the head of OPR, sought the appointment of a special prosecutor in the matter because they said they could not get to the bottom of the U.S. attorney firings because of the refusal by the Bush White House and the senior Bush administration officials to cooperate with their efforts.
Besides Rove, the Inspector and OPR said that former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, former White House counsel William Kelley, and Associate White House counsel, Richard Klingler, declined requests to be interviewed by investigators. The Bush White House also refused to “provide internal emails or internal documents related to the U.S. attorney removals,” citing executive privilege concerns.
In a related matter, Luskin disclosed that Rove has already been cooperating with a probe by Justice’s OPR into the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman.
While declining to discuss specifics of what Rove has told investigators regarding Siegelman, Luskin said: “What Karl has said [to investigators] is entirely consistent with what he has said publicly–that he absolutely nothing to do with this.”