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This Week In John Conyers’ Pursuit of Karl Rove

Congress may be in recess, but House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) isn’t taking a vacation from his enduring probe of Karl Rove’s role in the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Today Conyers wrote a letter (pdf) requesting that the Republican National Committee hand over all documents related to Siegelman, including emails sent between the RNC and the White House. He also requested documents and emails subpoenaed by the RNC in their investigation of the politicization of the Justice Department.

Conyers’ letter follows last week’s ruling, which limited the right of White House officials to invoke claims of executive privilege. District Judge John Bates ruled that White House officials are not “totally immune from ever having to respond to congressional testimony” when subpoenaed. Even when the president has asserted executive privilege, officials must appear before Congress and, when appropriate, invoke executive privilege. Bates also ruled that officials must give a specific description of subpoenaed documents they’re withholding based on executive privilege.

Jill Simpson, an Alabama attorney active in the state Republican Party, told the Judiciary Committee last year that Karl Rove ordered the Justice Department to re-open a bribery probe into Siegelman, which ultimately resulted in a dubious conviction. After nearly a year of evasions based on a claim to executive privilege, Rove denied involvement in Siegelman’s prosecution in a written statement two weeks ago, but he has not done the same in sworn, public testimony. His statement did not prevent the committee from holding him in criminal contempt.

Conyers argues that if President Bush is allowing Rove to answer written questions about the Siegelman prosecution, then what’s wrong with producing a few emails?

Conyers is giving the RNC a week to respond. Rove, meanwhile, has a month to decide if he will appear before the judiciary committee, which will almost certainly subpoena the “boy genius” when it reconvenes.

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