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Conyers Subpoenas Rove: ‘It’s Time to Talk’ « The Washington Independent

Karl Rove, who previously refused to testify to his involvement in the politicization of the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney firing scandal as former President George W. Bush’s deputy chief of staff, was subpoenaed today by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.).

From the Committee’s press release, which is posted on The Huffington Post:

“I have said many times that I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court, and today’s action is an important step along the way,” said Mr. Conyers. Noting that the change in administration may impact the legal arguments available to Mr. Rove in this long-running dispute, Mr. Conyers added “Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it. After two years of stonewalling, it’s time for him to talk.”

Rove’s prior refusals to testify were based on claims of “absolute immunity” through executive privilege — the idea that even former presidential advisers cannot be compelled to testify before Congress. But the legality of that claim was rejected by U.S. District Judge John Bates as part of the ongoing suit over executive privilege, House Judiciary Committee v. Harriet Miers.

The onset of the new administration creates a lot of new questions as to how Rove will answer this subpoena. Rove is relying on an interpretation of executive privilege that is no longer backed by the administration, so it’s unclear how, or if, he will still be protected. While it looks likely that this new Congress’ subpoena will finally wrest “privileged” documents from the White House, its still unclear as to whether Rove will testify before the committee.

Some of these questions are still tied up in HJC v. Miers, but some will have to be answered as events play out. This is an entirely unprecedented area of the law, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

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