By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 15, 2009
Karl Rove will be interviewed today as part of a criminal investigation into the firing of U.S. attorneys during the presidency of George W. Bush, according to two sources familiar with the appointment.
Rove, a former senior aide to Bush, will be questioned by Connecticut prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy, who was named in September to examine whether former Justice Department and White House officials lied or obstructed justice in connection with the dismissal of federal prosecutors in 2006.
Robert D. Luskin, an attorney for Rove, declined to comment. Tom Carson, a spokesman for Dannehy, also declined to comment.
Dannehy has operated mostly out of the public spotlight, issuing subpoenas for documents through a federal grand jury in the District. But in recent weeks, she has interviewed other government aides, including former White House political deputies Scott Jennings and Sara Taylor.
Dannehy also has reached out to representatives of former senator Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) and his chief of staff, Steve Bell, to determine whether New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias was removed improperly.
The firings were the focus of a lengthy report released last fall by the Justice Department's inspector general and the department's Office of Professional Responsibility. Investigators there uncovered improper political motivations in the dismissal of several of the nine fired federal prosecutors.
But the department's own probe was thwarted in part because its investigators did not have the authority to compel testimony from Bush White House advisers and lawmakers.
Legal experts say that a particular source of interest for Dannehy will be statements that officials made to the inspector general and to Congress about the episode, which could lead to charges of perjury or obstruction of justice. Outcry over the firings contributed to the departure of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, his chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty.
The prosecutor firings also are the subject of intense interest from the House Judiciary Committee, which sued former Bush aides Harriet E. Miers and Joshua B. Bolten for access to testimony and documents. Rove is also tentatively scheduled to provide closed-door testimony to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and other members of the panel next month.