Warehouse D
Snubbing His Nose
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Congress Threatens To Find Rove In Contempt

By James Donahue

The smearing of former Alabama Democratic governor Don Siegelman and exposure by an Alabama lawyer that former Bush strategist Karl Rove was directly involved has launched a Congressional investigation this week that is putting Rove and possibly some top names in Washington on the hot seat.

The political mess, which legal analysts now believe was a politically motivated assault by Republican-appointed U.S. Lawyers, brought a conviction of bribery and conspiracy charges against Siegelman. He could face a sentence of up to 30 years in prison if the conviction is not overturned.

Now that the House Judiciary Committee is looking into the Siegelman affair, Rove has refused to obey a subpoena calling for testimony on his role in the case.

The committee has rejected an offer by Rove to respond in writing instead of appearing to testify under oath. Rove also agreed to speak, but only off the record and without a written transcription.

Committee member Robert Wexler warned that Rove may be held in contempt of Congress when he appeared Wednesday on MSNBC's Dan Abrams news show. He said the committee is first going to ask Attorney General Michael Mukasey to enforce the subpoena.

Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. said Rove has a week to show. If he continues to ignore the subpoena, “we'll do what any self-respecting committee would do. We'd hold him in contempt. Either that or go and have him arrested. We want him for so many things, it's hard to keep track,” Conyers said.

In a message issued to the media, Wexler said “No American is above the law. None of us should be able to ignore Congress without consequence. If Mr. Rove ignores a subpoena from the Judiciary Committee, then the House of Representatives should pass an Inherent Contempt citation and exercise our right to send the House Sergeant-of-Arms to gather Mr. Rove and bring him before Contress to testify.

I do not advocate this option lightly, but the reality is that Congress has few options left against an Administration that totally refuses to submit to any type of reasonable Congressional oversight. Congress has both the right and obligation to investigate these matters. Never before has an Executive so upset the checks and balances inherent in our constitution. If we back off or delay, we effectively forfeit the power of Congress to investigate the Executive branch.” the Wexler release stated.

It continues: “Rove is not the first White House official to ignore Congress. We have seen a pattern of refusals based on laughable claims of executive privilege. First White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers ignored subpoenas on the investigaton into the firing of U.S. Attorney Generals for partisan political motives.

Their refusal to testify was unprecedented. Never before have executive officials totally refused to even show up before Congress. Bolten and Miers are the highest officials ever held in contempt of Congress. Unfortunately, Attorney General Mulkasey – in a dereliction of duty – has refused to enforce the contempt decree and now Congress is suing them in District Court to demand compliance.”

Wexler noted that the Vice President's Chief of Staff David Addington also has refused to testify in an investigation into the Bush Administration's ordering of torture.

Enough is enough,” he wrote. “We have a Constitutional obligation to provide accountability to a White House that is trying to usurp the constitutional powers of Congress.

These are the very reasons why I have been pushing for impeachment hearings for Vice President Cheney. The Bush Administration has been running roughshod over the Constitution for eight long years. We should not allow the promise of a positive election to be used as an excuse to ignore our duty to investigate crimes that weaken the very fabric of our Democracy.”