Rove Subpoenaed in Congressional Probe

By Theresa Cook

May 22, 2008 3:29pm

ABC News’ Jack Date, Theresa Cook and Jason Ryan Report:  The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed former senior Bush advisor Karl Rove, a panel spokesman tells ABC News.

The committee has been investigating claims that the Bush administration played politics in decisions made at the Justice Department, including the firing of at least nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.  Those firings created a political firestorm on Capitol Hill, and led to former attorney general Alberto Gonzales’ resignation last summer.

Additionally, the committee has launched an inquiry into the Justice Department’s prosecution of former governor Don Siegelman, D-Ala.  A federal jury convicted Siegelman in 2006 on bribery and other corruption charges.  He faces a seven-year prison sentence, but was released on bond while his attorneys appeal the conviction.

"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," House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, I have no choice today but to compel his testimony on these very important matters."

The subpoena calls for Rove to appear before the Commercial and Administrative Law subcommittee at 10:00 a.m. on July 10.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Chairman Conyers, Rove’s attorney Robert Luskin said, "the decision about when, where, and what a former assistant to the President may testify about raises issues of executive privilege and separation of powers that Mr. Rove does not control."

Rove had already received a subpoena from the Senate Judiciary Committee on the same subject, which is being litigated.  In his letter to Conyers, Luskin wrote, "it is hard to see what this [subpoena] will accomplish, apart from a Groundhog Day replay of the same issues that are already the subject of litigation."

Luskin’s letter also called into question Conyers motives and intentions, referring to his "reported remarks about the need for ‘someone’ to ‘kick his [Rove's] ass.’"

Contacted by ABC News, Rove’s attorney said he did not wish to comment beyond his letter.

The committee’s top Republican, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, also criticized the move by his Democratic colleagues, charging that they are "not really interested in the facts."  Smith said panel Republicans "will accept Mr. Rove’s offer of voluntary information, choosing responsible oversight over partisan games."

Senior Bush administration officials who have been asked to testify on the matter have asserted executive privilege or told lawmakers that they would only appear if they were not sworn in and if there were no transcripts of the hearing made.  That offer has been rejected by Democratic legislators.

The House Judiciary Committee also revealed that the Justice Department is investigating committee allegations of "selective, politically-motivated" federal prosecutions.  In a letter sent to Conyers and released by the committee, the Justice Department’s office of professional responsibility confirmed that it is investigating Siegelman’s prosecution and several others.

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