Friday, January 30, 2009

Bush lawyer tells Rove to refuse to talk to Congress

This is from

Just four days before he left office, President Bush instructed former White House aide Karl Rove to refuse to cooperate with future congressional inquiries into alleged misconduct during his administration.

On Jan. 16, 2009, then White House Counsel Fred Fieldingsent a letter (.pdf) to Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin. The message: should his client receive any future subpoenas, Rove "should not appear before Congress" or turn over any documents relating to his time in the White House. The letter told Rove that President Bush was continuing to assert executive privilege over any testimony by Rove—even after he leaves office.

A nearly identical letter (.pdf) was also sent by Fielding the day before to a lawyer for former White House counsel Harriet Miers, instructing her not to appear for a scheduled deposition with the House Judiciary Committee. That letter reasserted the White House position that Miers has "absolute immunity" from testifying before Congress about anything she did while she worked at the White House—a far-reaching claim that is being vigorously disputed by lawyers for the House of Representatives in court.

The letters set the stage for what is likely to be a highly contentious legal and political battle over an unresolved issue: whether a former president can assert "executive privilege"—and therefore prevent his aides from testifying before Congress—even after his term has expired.

"To my knowledge, these [letters] are unprecedented," said Peter Shane, an Ohio State University law professor who specializes in executive-privilege issues. "I'm aware of no sitting president that has tried to give an insurance policy to a former employee in regard to post-administration testimony." Shane likened the letter to Rove as an attempt to give his former aide a 'get-out-of-contempt-free card'."

This is just amazing. Former President George W. Bush is now claiming that he has executive privilege--even after he has left office. The House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has no intention of backing down now, having issued another subpoena against Karl Rove to testify before the Judiciary Committee next Monday on his role in the firing of the U.S. attorneys and the prosecution of former Democratic governor of Alabama Don Siegelman. Conyers stated in a press release, "After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him [Rove] to talk,"

The big question now is what will the Barack Obama administration do on this issue? Newsweek reports that a copy of Fielding's letter, and the subpoena, have been submitted to President Obama's White House counsel, George Craig, and everyone is waiting for President Obama's position on this issue. In other words, Karl Rove is praying that President Obama will save his ass in allowing former President Bush to exert executive privilege beyond Bush's term in office. And there are still the previous subpoenas that have been issued, by the House Judiciary Committee, against Rove and Harriet Miers. According to Newsweek:

"The Justice Department is due to state its position on executive privilege to the U.S. Court of Appeals in a few weeks in response to the House's attempt to enforce its previous subpoenas for Miers and Bolten, who were subpoenaed to turn over documents relating the U.S. attorneys firings. Both refused to comply, or even show up—relying on the Bush Justice Department's sweeping position on "absolute immunity" from testifying before Congress."

So this entire executive privilege against testifying before Congress is quickly coming to a close. Bush is out of office, and this sweeping declaration of presidential dictatorial power is now being decided by a new president, who was a constitutional law professor. Countdown with Keith Olbermann has a good roundup on this story, including speculation that the Obama administration may deny executive privilege for Rove to avoid testifying before Congress. From Countdown:

So we will know by early February how this circus will turn out.


The Intellectual Redneck said...

This is really going to anger the "Bush haters".
Bush shoe thrower statue is being removed

Eric A Hopp said...

Hello Intellectual Redneck:

Thank you for your comment. So the Bush Shoe Thrower statue is being removed. Big frickin' deal. What will never be removed is the video image of President Bush ducking away from a shoe being thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist during the press conference. It is a video image that will haunt George W. Bush's presidential legacy. It shows just what a failure Bush's war in Iraq was, and how he has turned the Iraqi people against him. You cannot downplay that video, or what a failure Bush has been for both Iraq, and for the U.S.

As for this shoe statue, I could care less about it.