“Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it,” declared House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers, D-Michigan, on Monday, when he issued a new subpoena Monday to the former White House political czar. “After two years of stonewalling, it’s time for him to talk.”
With backing from now-former President Bush, Rove deflected demands from Conyers and the Judiciary Committee that he testify regarding dramatic abuses of office, including the firing of nine U.S. attorneys who allegedly refused to use their positions to advance the Bush-Cheney administration’s political agenda.
Relying on Bush’s signal, Rove claimed “executive privilege.”
But Bush is no longer the executive.
So Conyers is renewing the struggle to hold Rove — and, by extension, the Bush-Cheney administration — to account.
Here is Monday’s announcement from the congressman’s office:
Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. issued a subpoena to Karl Rove requiring him to testify regarding his role in the Bush Administration’s politicization of the Department of Justice, including the US Attorney firings and the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. The subpoena was issued pursuant to authority granted in H.R. 5 (111th Congress), and calls for Mr. Rove to appear at deposition on Monday, February 2, 2009. Mr. Rove has previously refused to appear in response to a Judiciary Committee subpoena, claiming that even former presidential advisers cannot be compelled to testify before Congress. That “absolute immunity” position was supported by then-President Bush, but it has been rejected by U.S. District Judge John Bates and President Obama has previously dismissed the claim as “completely misguided.”
“I have said many times that I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court, and today’s action is an important step along the way,” said Mr. Conyers. Noting that the change in administration may impact the legal arguments available to Mr. Rove in this long-running dispute, Mr. Conyers added “Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it’s time for him to talk.”
This won’t be the end of the fight.
Bet on Rove to continue to stonewall.
Bet on Republicans, and perhaps even some Democrats (among them, President Obama), to argue that this is not the time to look backward.
But the best way to move forward is not by denying past wrongdoing; rather, it is necessary to understand and address that wrongdoing in order to assure that abuses of the political process really will be a thing of the past.
The chair of the Judiciary Committee is right that the best way to begin to address the scandalous abuses within the Bush-Cheney administration’s Justice Department is to compel testimony from the man whose name was most closely associated with those abuses: Karl Rove.