In my February 27th blog, I wrote about the case of Don Siegelman, a Democrat and former Alabama governor, who was charged with conspiracy and bribery and sentenced to seven years in prison. Fifty-two former state attorneys-general had asked Congress to investigate whether the charges brought against Siegelman were part of a five-year secret campaign to ruin the governor orchestrated by President Bush's former chief political adviser Karl Rove.
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Rove. They want to ask him about the White House's role in firing nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the prosecution of Siegelman, who was released in March when a federal appeals court ruled that he raised "substantial questions of fact and law". Siegelman has now asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court to overturn his jury conviction or grant him a new trial.
Rove has repeatedly said that he had no conversations with the President regarding the decision to fire the nine U.S. attorneys, which flies in face of his claims of executive privilege and Justice Department documents, which show that Rove questioned whether the nation's 94 U.S. attorneys should all be replaced at the start of Bush's second term and worked to get some prosecutors dismissed.
Rove’s claims that he had no involvement in the campaign to smear Siegelman are equally disingenuous, considering that the office of U.S. Attorney Leura Canary handled Siegelman’s prosecution. Her husband Bill Canary, one of Rove’s close Alabama associates, had run the campaign of Siegelman’s opponent, Governor Riley, in 2002.
The Justice Department should investigate these claims, however, Michael Mukasey, the current U.S. Attorney General and clone of Alberto “I don’t remember” Gonzales, has refused. Mukasey’s refusal to do his job will come as no surprise to anyone who followed his Senate confirmation hearings. When questioned about whether waterboarding was torture, Mukasey stated that, "I think it would be irresponsible of me to discuss particular techniques with which I am not familiar.”
That unbelievable claim set off alarm bells for every Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee except for Chuck Schumer of New York and Diane Feinstein of California. Mukasey's refusal to acknowledge that waterboarding was torture clearly revealed that he saw his role as a lapdog for the administration rather than an officer sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thank you Chuck and Diane.
It's unclear whether Rove will ever be forced to testify before Congress. However, by refusing to comply with a subpoena, he can be held in contempt. The Sergeant-at Arms for the House can arrest Rove and bring him to the House floor to answer the charges. The Senate last used this process, which is called inherent contempt, in 1934.
Given this administrations blatant disregard for the rule of law, it’s long past time for Congress to use any means necessary to bring Rove to justice.