WaPo: Rove Spins His Role in US Attorney Firings

Rove has, apparently, just finished up his second interview with the House Judiciary Committee on his role in the US Attorney firings. That apparently frees the WaPo to reveal–and debunk–details of an interview Rove had with the NYT and WaPo earlier this month to spin his role in the firings.

In an hour-long interview with The Post and the New York Times this month, Rove described himself as a "conduit" of grievances from lawmakers and others about the performance of home-state prosecutors. The interview was conducted on the condition that it not be released until Rove’s House testimony concluded. He said he did not recall several events in the timeline because of his busy job and asserted that he had done nothing to influence criminal cases, an allegation by Democrats that has dogged him for years.

Hmm. He was so busy he forgot. Where have I heard that excuse before? Oh yeah: Rove’s co-leaker, Scooter Libby, in the CIA Leak case.

It’s not entirely clear where the emails the WaPo got came from–they may well have come from Rove, too, in an attempt to pre-empt whatever leaks will come out of his HJC interview. The story includes a predictable quote from Robert Luskin, the guy who used this kind of pre-emptive leak to great advantage during the CIA Leak case. And while they do provide new levels of detail, they don’t tell us anything we didn’t already assume.

The emails WaPo received show Scott Jennings passing on Pete Domenici’s request that David Iglesias be fired directly to Rove.

Complaints about Iglesias began at least a year before he was relieved of his job, according to documents reviewed by The Post. Then-Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), his chief of staff, Steve Bell, and GOP lawyers in the state lobbied aggressively to oust the prosecutor. But the activity accelerated in fall 2006.

In an Oct. 10, 2006, e-mail from White House political affairs aide Scott Jennings to Rove, Jennings reported:

"I received a call from Steve Bell tonight. . . . Last week Sen. Domenici reached the chief of staff and asked that we remove the U.S. Atty. Steve wanted to make sure we all understood that they couldn’t be more serious about this request."

Read more

Anyone Having 2006 Flashbacks?

Because I am.

I find myself writing long weedy posts about Cheney’s role in the CIA Leak Case. And Karl Rove spent a long day answering questions about his role in a crime. (h/t fatster)

Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was deposed Tuesday by attorneys for the House Judiciary Committee, according to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the panel’s chairman.

Rove’s deposition began at 10 a.m. and ended around 6:30 p.m, with several breaks, Conyers said.

Conyers would not comment on what Rove told congressional investigators, what the next step in the long-running Judiciary Committee investigation would be or whether Rove would face additional questioning.

“He was deposed today,” Conyers said in an interview. “That’s all I can tell you.”

Eight and a half hours? That’s a lot of questions.

Supposedly, there will be transcripts produced, Harriet and Karl will review them, and then we’ll all get our greedy little hands on them. Given that it’s summertime in our nation’s capital, it’ll take at least a few weeks for all that to transpire.

But we might get a Karl transcript before we get a Cheney interview.

Bush Officials Compromised Renzi Investigation for Political Gain

In an important new article from Murray Waas, writing at The Hill, we have at long last fresh news on the Rick Renzi corruption case in Arizona, and it turns out that officials in the Bush Administration improperly leaked out information compromising the investigation of Renzi, and did so for sheer political gain immediately prior to the 2006 elections.

In the fall of 2006, one day after the Justice Department granted permission to a U.S. attorney to place a wiretap on a Republican congressman suspected of corruption, existence of the investigation was leaked to the press — not only compromising the sensitive criminal probe but tipping the lawmaker off to the wiretap.

Career federal law enforcement officials who worked directly on a probe of former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) said they believe that word of the investigation was leaked by senior Bush administration political appointees in the Justice Department in an improper and perhaps illegal effort to affect the outcome of an election.

At the time of the leak, Renzi was locked in a razor-thin bid for reelection and unconfirmed reports of a criminal probe could have become politically damaging. The leaked stories — appearing 10 days before the election — falsely suggested that the investigation of Renzi was in its initial stages and unlikely to lead to criminal charges.

As you will recall, Renzi’s indictment (or lack thereof at the time) was a critical prong in the greater US Attorney firing scandal, specifically as to Arizona US Attorney Paul Charlton.

Murray is right, the import of this is not merely the implications on Arizona and the loss of a really good US Attorney (and as a practitioner in Arizona I can tell you that Paul Charlton had universal respect from both sides of the political aisle, prosecutors, the defense bar and the judiciary). The really notable point here is that it permitted Renzi to circle his wagons, and falsely inferred right before the 2006 election that Renzi was clean enough to be reelected.

Despite the fervent claims of the Bush crowd to the contrary, this was gross politicization of the Justice process, and it worked.

This previously unreported episode, however, directly contradicts that claim and constitutes the first evidence that a political-corruption investigation was stymied for political reasons during the Bush administration.

As part of an apparent damage-control effort to assist Renzi’s reelection bid, information was leaked on the same day to three Read more

Rove Has a Date with HJC–He Just Doesn’t Want to Tell Fox News That

As I noted earlier, Fox reported yesterday that Miers had testified before HJC, but there was not yet an agreement to have Rove testify.

But that’s not right. According to a status report filed in the HJC suit against the White House over ten days ago, Rove has a date to appear.

Pursuant to the Court’s order dated March 5, 2009, the parties respectfully submit this joint status report.

Since the last status report, the parties have made substantial progress towards fulfilling their obligations under the Agreement Concerning Accommodation. The Committee has now been provided access to all of the documents covered by the Agreement, and the parties have agreed to a schedule for interviews with Harriet Miers and Karl Rove, to take place under the agreed terms and conditions.

Miers, Rove, and the documents!?!?! What a novelty. Oversight–just two years in the making.

If Harriet Can Appear Before HJC, Why Not Rove, Yet?

Fox is reporting that Harriet Miers snuck into HJC for a deposition yesterday. It’s all very nice that–two years after she was subpoenaed, Harriet is just now getting around to showing up before Congress. (h/t fatster)

But I’m more troubled by Fox’s report that there still isn’t an agreement for Rove to testify.

In March, Miers and former Bush adviser Karl Rove agreed to testify under oath.

Miers testified today behind closed doors. It remains unclear when Bolten could be deposed. But a senior House Democrat familiar with the inquiry described Bolten as “a tasty little morsel.” The senior lawmaker indicated to FOX that Rove ”is really the big catch.” But there is still no agreement for Rove to appear.

It has been, by my count, 114 days since Greg Craig and HJC finalized the plan to have Turdblossom (and Miers) testify. Yet he still–according to Fox, which ought to know–hasn’t shown his face for his deposition.

Now perhaps Rove’s interim engagement with Nora Dennehy, in May, explains the delay. After all, HJC might be willing to postpone their chat with Rove to allow a federal prosecutor to grill him first.

But otherwise, what’s the delay? Is it that he’s just more scared of Congress than Harriet Miers?

Turdblossom Has Another Meeting Scheduled with a Special Prosecutor

This time, with Nora Dennehy, who is investigating the US Attorney firing (particularly that of David Iglesias):

Former top White House official Karl Rove will be interviewed tomorrow as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the firing of U.S. attorneys during the Bush administration, according to two sources familiar with the appointment.


He will be questioned tomorrow by Connecticut prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy, who was named last year to examine whether any former senior Justice Department and White House officials lied or obstructed justice in connection with the dismissal of federal prosecutors in 2006.

Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for Rove, declined comment this afternoon on the imminent interview. So did Tom Carson, a spokesman for Dannehy.

Dannehy mostly has operated in the shadows, quietly issuing subpoenas for documents through a federal grand jury in the District. But in recent weeks she has interviewed other former government aides, including White House political deputies Scott Jennings and Sarah Taylor. She also has reached out to representatives for former  Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and his chief of staff, Steve Bell, in an effort to determine whether New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias was removed for improper political reasons. 

Any bets on whether it’ll take Rove five tries before he gets his story straight this time around?

Dana Jill Simpson and Greg Craig

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this (written by Dana Jill Simpson’s lawyer to White House Counsel Greg Craig)–besides that this is what you get when you hire an uber-insider like Greg Craig to be your White House Counsel. And that if we can tie Richard Shelby to the Siegelman mess (remember, Jeff Sessions is already in deep), then I’d be okay with that.

I represent Dana Jill Simpson, an attorney in Rainsville, Alabama, who testified before Congress in September 2007, regarding Karl Rove’s involvement in the U.S. Justice Department prosecution of Gov. Don Siegelman.

She is very concerned that you have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6 , 1.7 and 1.10, while citing 1.9 to decline representation. She is equally concerned about the person or persons to whom you have divulged her confidential information. Your recent efforts on the part of negotiating a settlement between Congress and Karl Rove have been noted, as well as your efforts to delay matters before the D.C. Court of Appeals, regarding Rove and other Bush administration officers claiming executive privilege.

For this reason, she is asking that you step down from your position as White House Counsel, at least in all matters dealing with the Bush administration. Further, she is asking that you furnish her with a list of each and every person with whom you have communicated regarding this matter; that is, Miss Simpson’s affidavit, testimony, knowledge, research and any other matters touching or information furnished by Miss Simpson. In recapping the events linking you and
Miss Simpson:

1.) Upon information and belief, Gov. Don Siegelman or his agent made the direct call to you at your law firm, Williams & Connolly, soliciting your pro bono representation of Ms. Simpson, with regard to her affidavit about Karl Rove’s involvement in Siegelman’s prosecution.

2.) According to Ms. Simpson, you called her up to four times on or about March 16-17, 2007, and you faxed her your resume.

3.) She initially asked, “Before we really start this, do you have any contacts with George Bush, Karl Rove, Don Siegelman or Bob Riley?”

4.) You indicated you did not and said, “Tell me who this is about.”

5.) Your initial conversation with Ms. Simpson lasted about 10 to 15 minutes.

Read more

Will the House Hold Rove in Contempt before March 4?

Just before I disappeared for a week, John Conyers sent Karl Rove a sternly-worded letter insisting Rove show up for his deposition today.

I also cannot agree to your request for a delay to accommodate Mr. Rove’s schedule. As you know, the deposition was originally scheduled for February 2. On January 29 I in good faith acceded to your request for a delay since you were scheduled to be out of town at the time and requested more time to prepare. I also notified your office of the new February 23 date at that time. Thus, absent an actual commitment by Mr. Rove to comply with the subpoena, I am not in a position to agree to yet a further delay. In essence, given Mr. Rove’s public statements that he does not intend to comply with the subpoena, I am puzzled as to why Mr. Rove needs a mutually convenient date to appear.

Well, the blogger formerly known as Kagro X reports that Rove indeed blew off the House Judiciary Committee (for what must be the third or fourth time) today (h/t Petrocelli).

I find that interesting for several reasons. First, remember that Conyers sent that sternly-worded letter at a point when HJC was already negotiating with the Obama White House about what to do with the Miers/Bolten suit.  

Next, consider some of the other language Conyers used in his sternly-worded letter.

Finally, conducting a voluntary deposition under these circumstances [limiting testimony to the Siegelman witch hunt and excluding the US Attorney firings and other politicization issues] could simply serve to further delay matters beyond the nearly two years I have been waiting, since the Committee could not then be in a position to utilize contempt or other enforcement mechanisms in response to any improper refusal to answer questions. [my emphasis]

Conyers was clearly thinking about contempt when he wrote that letter–at a time when he was in negotiations on the Miers/Bolten suit.

Finally, as I reported earlier, Obama got the second week of his requested two week delay for his brief on the Miers/Bolten suit. HJC agreed to go along with that delay.

Now, I have no reason (besides noting the coincident dates) to believe that there’s a connection between the additional week extension on the Appeals Court brief and any response to Rove’s latest contempt for an HJC subpoena.

Read more

The Appeals Court Gives Obama His Week

Just a quick follow-up on this post, which noted that the Appeals Court had only given Obama one week of the two week extension he had asked for to broker a deal between the House Judiciary Committee and Harriet Miers and John Bolten regarding testimony.

DOJ asked again for their additional week on February 19. And today, the Appeals Court gave DOJ that second week. The Obama DOJ brief is now due on March 4.

And Now the Appeals Court Jumps in the Fray

This is weird. The DC Appeals Court apparently doesn’t want to give Obama time to make a deal between Bush’s minions and the House Judiciary Committee.

After specifically invoking the benefit of "permitting the new President"… "to express [his] views on the merits of the lawsuit" between the House Judiciary Committee and Harriet Miers and John Bolten last fall when it stayed Judge Bates’ ruling knocking down Absolute Immunity, and in spite of the fact that said new President asked for two additional weeks to submit his brief on the debate over Harriet Miers’ testimony, and in spite of the fact that HJC agreed to that two week delay, the DC Appeals panel has ordered DOJ to submit its brief by February 25, half the time the Obama Administration requested. 

That’s weird for several reasons. Normally, when the legislature and the executive get into a squabble, the courts like to have them try to resolve the squabble on their own. One of the reasons Obama had wanted two weeks was to try to broker a deal himself. Given reports that such a deal is taking some time, the order to submit briefs this Wednesday makes it much less likely that HJC and Bush’s minions will make a deal before the Appeals Court gets involved again.

The one-week extension also guarantees that Obama will submit his brief before Dawn Johnsen takes over at OLC; her confirmation hearing is scheduled for the same day as the new deadline for the brief. One way Obama could have responded to this suit would be to simply withdraw Steven Bradbury’s audacious memo expanding Absolute Immunity, but that won’t happen before Johnsen takes over.

Now, I have no idea why the Appeals Court is so antsy to get involved here, but there are several possibilities.

It’s possible that they’ve seen Greg Craig’s statement explaining that Obama will not "do anything that would undermine or weaken the institution of the presidency" and they worry that Obama will craft a deal that preserves Absolute Immunity, and they want to prevent that from happening (though why they think John Conyers would agree to such a deal, I have no clue).

Read more