House Panel Interviews Karl Rove About Attorney Firings
Wednesday, July 8, 2009; 3:15 PM
Former presidential aide Karl Rove sat for a day-long interview with members of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and is expected to return for another round of testimony later this summer, according to people familiar with the session.
The panel, led by Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), is continuing to examine why the Bush administration fired nine top federal prosecutors in 2006, setting off an outcry that prompted the resignation of more than a dozen Justice Department officials including former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales. The Justice Department's inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility concluded in an investigative report last year that at least some of the firings might have been executed for improper, political reasons.
The role of Rove and senior White House advisers in the dismissals has remained cloudy because the Bush administration asserted executive privilege to prevent the turnover of executive branch e-mail messages and other documents to Congress. But with the help of Obama White House Counsel Gregory B. Craig, both sides reached a compromise that paved the way for testimony by Rove. Former Bush White House counsel Harriet Miers testified quietly before the House panel earlier this summer. Lawmakers say they will publish transcripts of the closed-door sessions when all of the interviews are complete.
Rove's attorney, Robert D. Luskin, issued a statement Tuesday evening.
"I can't confirm or deny that Karl Rove was deposed by the House Judiciary," Luskin said. "The agreement establishing these interviews contemplated that they would be confidential until they were all completed, and we intend to respect that term by not commenting in any way."
Rove already has been interviewed by career prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy, who is investigating whether criminal laws barring false statements and obstruction of justice were violated in connection with the firings. She has focused in part on the dismissal of former New Mexico prosecutor David C. Iglesias after GOP lawmakers and state party officials repeatedly complained about him to the Bush White House and the Justice Department.