The burgeoning congressional focus on the supposedly “missing” emails of White House political czar Karl Rove and almost two dozen other presidential aides who were doing political work on the taxpayers’ dime is not limited to questions about the eight U.S. Attorneys who were fired after at least some of them reportedly failed to politicize their prosecutions.
A new letter issued by key members of the House Judiciary Committee specifically expresses concerns that push the inquiry beyond the eight to look at the potential that some of the 85 U.S. Attorneys who were not fired may have been kept on because they used their powers in a manner that pleased Rove and his minions.
While working in the White House, Rove and at least 21 other aides used computer accounts set up by the Republican National Committee to allow them to do political work from their federal offices.
House Judiciary Committee chair Chairman Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Michigan, and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, D-California, who chairs the Judiciary subcommittee that is leading the investigation into wrongdoing by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and others linked to the U.S. Attorneys scandal, have asked Republican National Committee Chairman Robert Duncan for e-mails and other documents. Of course, following what has become standard operating procedure for the White House and its allies at the U.S. Attorneys scandal has developed, the RNC claims that key emails have gone missing.
Digital digressions aside, the letter from Conyers and Sanchez telegraphs an important evolution of the inquiry.
In a letter dispatched this week to Duncan, Conyers and Sanchez have requested copies of emails sent and received on RNC accounts that discuss the performance of any U.S. attorney, including questions of whether to retain, dismiss or seek resignations.
The letter goes into detail about the Wisconsin case in which a state employee was prosecuted by a Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney on a timeline that coincided with a tight gubernatorial race between incumbent Jim Doyle, a Democrat, and Congressman Mark Green, a Republican with close ties to the Bush White House. The employee, who was charged with steering a contract to a Doyle campaign donor was convicted and jailed. Republicans made the case a prime feature of their fall campaign against Doyle.
This month, a federal appeals court panel, on which the majority of judges were Republican appointees, threw the conviction out and ordered the jailed woman freed from federal prison. One of the federal judges referred to the evidence against the state employee as “beyond thin” and the panel repeatedly questioned how and why the U.S. Attorney, Steven Biskupic, brought the case.
White House counselor Dan Bartlett has acknowledged that President Bush discussed concerns about politically-sensitive federal prosecutions in Wisconsin with Gonzales in October of 2006, as the gubernatorial election approached. Those conversations reportedly involved so-called “voter fraud” cases that were being promoted by state and federal Republicans, but Bartlett has not said whether the conversation was limited to such matters.