House Panel Subpoenas Rove Over Role in Justice Dept. Actions

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 23, 2008

The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former presidential adviser Karl Rove yesterday to testify about his alleged meddling in Justice Department operations, escalating a long fight over lawmakers' authority to question Bush administration aides.

Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) wants to ask Rove about alleged politicization of the Justice Department, including the firings of U.S. attorneys and any role Rove may have played in the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. Siegelman, a Democrat, was convicted on fraud charges but was released from prison in March pending the results of his appeal.

In recent weeks, Siegelman has intensified his accusations that the Bush administration targeted him for political reasons.

Separately, Conyers disclosed yesterday that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has opened an investigation of possible selective prosecution of Siegelman and at least three others, at the request of the House Judiciary panel. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has vigorously rejected allegations of political motivation by department lawyers.

Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, accused House Democrats of "provoking a gratuitous confrontation" and of refusing reasonable offers in which Rove would have provided written answers to questions.

"The decision about when, where and what a former assistant to the President may testify about raise issues of Executive Privilege and separation of powers that Mr. Rove does not control," Luskin wrote in a letter dated May 21 that was released yesterday.

"It is unfortunate that Mr. Rove has failed to cooperate with our requests," Conyers said in his own statement. "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."

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