Tag Archive: Karl Rove

How Rove Said He’d Answer Siegelman Prosecution Queries


Link:  http://www.truthout.org/071109A?n

Saturday 11 July 2009

by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report

Karl Rove continues to be a subject of congressional investigations. (Photo: Getty Images)

    While the details of Karl Rove’s eight-hour deposition Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee remain unknown, Rove has provided insight into how he said he intended to answer the panel’s questions. The deposition concerned Rove’s role in the firings of nine US attorneys and the alleged political prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

    In March, during a little-known interview on Fox News, where Rove is a contributor, Rove told Chris Wallace that he has already responded to questions about Siegelman’s prosecution and has posted his answers to written questions on his web site, Rove.com.

    “My understanding is I am going to be questioned both about the US attorneys [dismissals] and about the allegations that I was responsible for the prosecution of Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman … a lot of these answers, particularly with regard to Siegelman, are already on my web site,” Rove said in the March 8 interview.

    Last December, Rove obtained a copy of an e-mail Siegelman had sent to his supporters who contributed to his legal defense fund. Rove blogged about it under a headline in which he portrayed himself as a victim: “Personal Responsibility: Who Needs It When You Can Blame Karl Rove?” www.rove.com/notes?page=4 (sixth item down from the top).

    “Below is a fundraising letter sent out by Friends of Don Siegelman 2008. Despite that it has no basis in fact, I thought you might find it amusing. In case you’re interested, visit these links for the facts,” Rove wrote.

    Rove then posted links to four documents on his web site, one of which was his response to questions posed to him last July by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. Smith, the ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, has been a vocal critic of the panel’s chairman John Conyers’s attempts to force Rove to comply with numerous congressional subpoenas about the firings of federal prosecutors and the prosecution of Siegelman. Rove subsequently defied the subpoenas on executive privilege grounds.

    Smith sent a letter to Rove’s longtime attorney, Robert Luskin, on July 15, 2008, excoriating Conyers for not accepting an offer to have Rove respond to questions about the Siegelman prosecution in a private setting and not under oath. Smith did not inform Conyers or other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee that he had sent the letter.

    “The Committee’s goal should not be the unnecessary persecution of witnesses with compulsory congressional process and needless contempt proceedings,” Smith wrote. “Because written answers to written questions about the Siegelman matter would serve the Committee’s proper objective, I am accepting by this letter your offer to provide those answers.”

    About a week later, during a committee hearing on the matter last year, while Conyers and other Democrats were considering whether to hold Rove in contempt, Smith announced that he had obtained Rove’s responses to lingering questions about his alleged role in Siegelman’s prosecution. Smith then submitted the written question-and-answer exchange with Rove into the Congressional record.

    In a July 22, 2008, letter accompanying Rove’s response to Smith’s questions, Rove’s longtime attorney, Robert Luskin, wrote:

    “As you know, Mr. Rove has never asserted any personal privileges in response to the Committee’s subpoena, but remains obligated to follow the direction of the President. We simply cannot understand the Committee’s interest in provoking a confrontation with Mr. Rove while the precise legal issue that is presented by his subpoena is subject to a pending action in District Court.

    “We have struggled instead to find a method by which Mr. Rove could answer the Committee’s questions while at the same time respecting the prerogatives of the President. We thank you for providing such an opportunity, and we trust that Mr. Rove’s answers will assist the Committee in resolving these utterly unfounded allegations.”

    Claims that Rove never asserted “personal privileges” is a familiar line Luskin has used as recently as February, when Conyers subpoenaed Rove for the third time this year to try to compel him to testify about Siegelman’s prosecution and the US attorney firings. In March, Conyers’s committee, with the help of White House Counsel Gregory Craig, brokered a deal that resulted in Rove agreeing to testify before the committee privately.

    But Rove indicated during his Fox News interview that he doesn’t intend to stray from the responses to questions he had already provided to Smith, which were clearly written to elicit denials from Rove about his involvement in Siegelman’s prosecution.

    In his written responses to Smith’s 14 questions, Rove denied speaking to anyone “either directly or indirectly” at the Justice Department or to Alabama state officials about bringing corruption charges against Siegelman.

    “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,” Rove wrote. “I have never attempted, either directly or indirectly, to influence these matters.”

    Rove responded to eight other questions with the exact same response.

    Rove said the Judiciary Committee should press Siegelman to justify his allegations about Rove’s interference in the case.

    “The committee should require Siegelman to substantiate his allegations about my ‘involvement’ in his prosecution – something he has failed to do in either media interviews or court filings,” Rove wrote.

    Siegelman was convicted of corruption in 2006, but was released from prison on bond in March 2008 after an appeals court ruled that “substantial questions” about the case could very well result in either a new trial or a dismissal. In March, the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld Siegelman’s bribery conviction but threw out two lesser charges. The panel ordered a new sentencing date for the former governor, who has been urging Attorney General Eric Holder to look into specific evidence that would appear to suggest that he was the victim of a partisan witch hunt.

    In an interview with The Anniston Star on May 18, 2008, Siegelman said Rove first targeted him in 1998.

    “It started when Karl Rove’s bag man, I call him, [disgraced lobbyist] Jack Abramoff, started putting Indian casino money into Alabama to defeat me in 1998,” Siegelman told the newspaper. “Shortly after I endorsed Al Gore in 1999, Karl Rove’s client, the attorney general of Alabama (Bill Pryor) started an investigation.

    “In 2001, Karl Rove’s business associate and political partner’s wife, Leura Canary, became a US Attorney and started a federal investigation…. It started with the attorney general and the state investigation, followed by the federal investigation, followed by indictments in 2004, and then another series of indictments leading up to the 2006 election … but, yeah, it’s all part of the same case.”

    In March when a US Appeals Court upheld many of the corruption charges against Siegelman, Rove once again directed his supporters to the documents on his web site containing his answers to Smith’s questions about the matter.

    “Honoring the President’s executive privilege and acting with White House approval, Karl Rove responded to Judiciary Committee questions about the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman,” Rove wrote.

    Conyers did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

    When his panel reached an agreement with Rove on March 5, Conyers said, “I am determined to have it known whether US attorneys in the Department of Justice were fired for improper political reasons, and if so, by whom.”

    In a statement released to NBC News Tuesday Luskin said, “The agreement setting up the interviews contemplated that they would remain entirely confidential until all the interviews were complete. Out of respect for that term of the agreement, Mr. Rove is not commenting.”


Jason Leopold is editor in chief of The Public Record, www.pubrecord.org.

House Committee Asks Rove to Testify About Ex-Alabama Governor
    The Associated Press

    Thursday 17 April 2008

    Washington – The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday asked former White House adviser Karl Rove to testify about claims that he influenced a federal corruption case against former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama.

    The panel also called on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate allegations that political motivations drove the Siegelman case and several other federal prosecutions during the Bush administration.

    Issuing a lengthy report on possible “selective prosecution,” the committee cited cases against Pennsylvania coroner Cyril Wecht and Wisconsin state procurement official Georgia Thompson as other examples that are ripe for review.

    Like the Siegelman prosecution, both cases had political undercurrents, with critics saying they were engineered by White House-appointed prosecutors to hurt Democrats during election season. A judge recently declared a mistrial in the Wecht case, and a conviction against Thompson was overturned last year.

    Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., accused Attorney General Michael Mukasey of not taking the allegations seriously and of blocking congressional requests for documents. Conyers said the evidence presented thus far threatens to undermine public faith in the judicial system.

    “The Justice Department has simply not been forthcoming, and I feel the only way to move this investigation forward is to seek further independent investigation and testimony from Karl Rove, who appears to be the missing link in a chain from the White House to the Justice Department,” Conyers said in a statement.

    Peter Carr, a Justice spokesman, said the department was reviewing the report.

    “The attorney general, however, has made clear that the department has and carries out a duty to ensure that its investigations of public corruption are conducted without fear or favor, and utterly without regard to the political affiliation of a particular public official,” Carr said.

    Rove, who was heavily involved in Alabama politics before directing President Bush’s White House campaigns, has denied any involvement in the Siegelman case. But calls for his testimony have grown louder since a Republican lawyer and campaign volunteer in Alabama said last year that she overheard conversations among top Republicans suggesting that Rove was pushing Justice officials in Washington to go after Siegelman.

    Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, told MSNBC earlier this month that Rove would testify on the matter. But Luskin said in an interview Thursday that his comments were taken out of context and that the decision was the White House’s call, not Rove’s, because it involved questions of executive privilege and separation of powers.

    The White House had no immediate comment. But administration lawyers so far have refused to allow such testimony – even under subpoena – in a related congressional investigation into whether Bush administration officials fired federal prosecutors who weren’t loyal Republicans.

    A Judiciary Committee aide said Conyers “reserves the right” to subpoena if Rove denies the request to appear voluntarily.

    Vince Kilborn, a Siegelman attorney, called Luskin’s argument a “smoke screen.”

    “Executive privilege does not apply to political activity,” he said. “It’s not a White House decision. It’s his own decision.”

    Siegelman served one term as governor but was later convicted in 2006 on bribery-related and obstruction of justice charges and sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Last month, a federal appeals court approved Siegelman’s release from prison while he appeals, saying the former governor had raised “substantial questions of fact and law.”

    The prosecution stemmed from his appointment of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to an influential hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging contributions to Siegelman’s campaign for a state lottery.