House Judiciary Committee Subpoenas Karl Rove in Critical Constitutional Showdown

170px-karl_roveJohn Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has subpoenaed Karl Rove to testify about the Bush administration’s firing of United States attorneys. The subpoena could force an interesting constitutional fight since President Obama would now be in a position to waive executive privilege and Attorney General nominee Eric Holder could allow the matter to go to a grand jury. I discussed this issue last night on Countdown in this segment.

It is conceivable that former President Bush could ask a court to uphold his prior claim of privilege. However, courts generally defer to the sitting president on question of privilege. The biggest change would be the lifting of Mukasey’s order blocking the submission of the case to a grand jury. The Congress had a strong case of criminal contempt against Bush officials. It could now conceivably go to a jury. I would be surprised if Rove would risk such a trial in Washington.

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72 thoughts on “House Judiciary Committee Subpoenas Karl Rove in Critical Constitutional Showdown”

  1. Buddha,

    I know you’ll keep your word and I appreciate that about you. Sorry, for a double post, I didn’t see your last entry in time.

  2. I would expect Mr. Rove to raise the executive privilege claim once again, particularly since the law on the subject remains inconclusive. After all, why should the privilege end with the conclusion of one’s term in office? If that is the case, it is not truly a privilege, merely a procedural delaying tactic. More to the point, however, the law is not well settled. The court in the Nixon case told us the the privilege is qualified rather than absolute. Pres. Clinton’s claim of executive privilege in the Lewinsky matter was rejected. Under the Bush administration the privilege was invoked on a number of occasions without consequences, thanks to a complicit Justice Department. And the courts do not like these cases because they are forced to do something they intensely dislike, engage in balancing the interests of separate branches of government. But what we do know is that the privilege is not absolute and the courts will not permit it to be utilized for the purpose of hiding evidence of criminal wrongdoing. I agree with Jill that the new administration needs to go to the wall on this one. I just wish I felt more confident that it would do so.

  3. Also, I feel too much empahsis on trolls is keeping us from taking on the issues raised by JT and other people who actually want to discuss things. (Although I’ve been loving rafflaw’s VonTroll family references.)

  4. Jill,

    Of course it’s more effective that way. And there have been none today. I gave my conditions, and unlike some, if I make a rule, I follow it. To his credit, so is he. We’ll see how long it lasts.

  5. Buddha,

    I feel the same way as Gyges. I really liked your back and forth with Mike S. on Gaza because you were both presenting thoughtful positions that showed you had really heard out each others points. I think it’s important to smack down propaganda of any kind and I’m with you on this. It’s just that I believe your argument is more effective if it doesn’t contain any personal attacks.

    Jill

  6. Gyges,

    I’ll stipulate I can be vicious. I keep my demon on a leash. And as I’ve said, it’s JT’s playground. He says stop, I’ll stop. He’s asked me to stop troll baiting before and I complied. I’d do so again. If the regulars ask me to stop, I’ll stop. But I also won’t be a doormat. I’ve laid out what this particular persistent troll needs to do to earn civility and respect he has oh so cried about but has been unwilling to give to others up to this point. Since I put down those rules, after his debate challenge, he has complied for his one post, and as you see, I didn’t attack him. I wished him luck. But if you’re expecting an apology for smacking down Neocon propaganda back with no substance, it’s not going to happen.

  7. Buddha,

    The quote argues that a sure sign of sticking your head in the sand is adopting a position of relative ethics. That seems to be more of a slam against relative ethics than not.

    As a side note, I’ve been finding myself skipping a lot of your posts recently, your territory marking has gotten to be a bit extreme. Variety is the spice of life, but I (and I suspect a number of others) come here for the meat of the conversation not the pepper of troll baiting. While I enjoy reading your debates, the taunting can go overboard sometimes. That’s my two cents, I won’t be insulted if you continue your current tactics, but I felt I should say it.

  8. Besides, he has to beat two of you first. On his own. That’s the last assistance he’ll get.

  9. Gyges,

    Perhaps, but maybe you misread my intent. I don’t think it’s a statement against ethical relativism. By attacking absolute principles, by definition, it can only be a statement for ethical relativism. As anyone knows who has argued ethical relativism, the best one can hope for is a stalemate – it’s a well known quagmire. What Bron requires is victory, not stalemate. He’s off on a good foot tactically, but strategically, not so much.

  10. Buddha,

    I could be wrong, but I think Bron was speaking out against ethical relativism. Not sure why that’s relevant, except maybe as a rebuke for a possible lack of action by the Justice Department, but I think you let your dislike of Bron affect your reading of the quote.

  11. i thought this apropos

    “We cannot but be astonished at the ease with which men resign themselves to ignorance about what it is most important for them to know; and we may be certain that they are determined to remain invincibly ignorant if they once come to consider it as axiomatic that there are no absolute principles.”

    “Economic Sophisms” by Frederic Bastiat

  12. This will help show the Obama’s administration’s true intent towards restoring the rule of law. Karl Rove did not even bother to show up for his hearing. I don’t think a “no show” can reasonably be argued as an exercise of executive privilege. I also don’t see how politicizing the justice dept. falls under this aegis. If the justice dept. allows Karl to refuse testimony again I think we will know the intent of Obama. It would mean he plans to protect all high level officials from investigation. This would be a good time for every citizen of conscience to put the pressure on Obama, and I mean big time pressure. If he doesn’t hear from us he will go about business as usual–ie: allowing the powerful to be above the law.

  13. Risk it? Like he’d have a choice. Whether he’s in jail for treason or for contempt makes no difference to me as long as he’s in jail. Break Rove and you’ll have the Neocons on a plate. He’s the key to the cover up. Karl, if he were as smart as he thinks, should throw himself on our collective mercy as BEG for witness protection (like that COULD work without massive plastic surgery for fat boy). The position he’s in now is begging for his “partners” to arrange for Karl to “have an accidentally fatal accident” or “die mysteriously in his sleep”. These are people who broke the law, sent thousands of Americans to their death, killed thousands of civilians JUST TO MAKE MONEY. Do you really think they won’t get to you Karl if they feel you are a threat? Your choices are clear: testify or sit in a cell. You don’t have your boy to protect you now. Sing now, Karl. It will lessen the price you personally pay, but pay for your crimes? Justice will be had. It WILL happen, Karl, despite any effort you may make short of suicide to hold it off. You might even live long enough to get out of prison, traitor. But I doubt it.

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