Thursday, July 31, 2008
A House committee voted yesterday to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress, as its Senate counterpart explored punishment for alleged Bush administration misdeeds.
Voting 20 to 14 along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee said that Rove broke the law by not appearing at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether he encouraged prosecutions against Democrats such as former Alabama governor Don Siegelman.
The committee's decision is only a recommendation. A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she will not decide until September whether to bring it to a final vote.
The House panel's vote occurred as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee delved into allegations of wrongdoing, including discriminating against liberals at the Justice Department, ignoring subpoenas and lying to Congress.
Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers. His attorney, Robert Luskin, had urged the panel not to vote for a citation, calling it a "gratuitously punitive" action that would serve no purpose because the question of executive privilege is already pending in two other cases in federal court.