No Comment — June 2, 2008, 7:09 am

Pressure Mounts on Karl Rove

For seven years Karl Rove was the nation’s ultimate political puppetmaster, pulling the strings of the great apparatus of state. He sallied forth from that pinnacle of power to offer his wisdom in friendly media. But his actual dealings remained obscured by a heavy curtain of secrecy.

Some of the most serious accusations surrounding Rove related to his manipulations of the justice system. His name sits at the heart of the investigation into the unlawful dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys (on the 2006 anniversary of Pearl Harbor). And in many of the cases now under investigation on suspicion of being politically motivated prosecutions—like the dubious prosecution of Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, heavily chronicled in this space, as well as prosecutions in Wisconsin and Mississippi, and a suspicious non-prosecution in California—the name Karl Rove floats curiously in the background. Readers of the Chicago Tribune recently learned of allegations that even as Rove was caught in the sights of a criminal investigation headed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, he plotted with powerful Chicago Republicans for Fitzgerald’s removal.

Karl Rove has no hesitation in issuing carefully contrived non-denial denials when he discusses these matters in the media. He generally takes care to appear only on his home turf, on Fox News or in publications like the G.O.P. message-true Birmingham News. But recently, in an appearance on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Rove was asked whether he had contacted the Justice Department about the Siegelman case. He responded, “I found out about Don Siegelman’s investigation and indictment by reading about it in the newspaper.” It was a typically Rovian contrived non-response, designed to convey the impression that he was answering in the negative without actually doing so. But this time, Stephanopoulos called him on it, challenging him to answer the question directly. Revealingly, Rove bumbled for several minutes, but steadfastly refused to give a straight answer. Watch the clip here:

The case against Rove has recently been bolstered by a surprising source. Scott McClellan, who as White House press secretary was apparently called upon to disseminate Rovian falsehoods a few times too many, has tried to set the record straight in his new book, What Happened. In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday, McClellan made plain that Rove had lied to him about his role in the Valerie Plame matter, causing him to make false statements to the press about the role Rove played. McClellan went on to state that Bush should have kept his promise to fire the Plame leaker by sacking Karl Rove. What emerges from McClellan’s portrait is a Karl Rove who plays fast and loose with the criminal justice system and who misleads the press regularly about his own dealings, usually picking surrogates as the vehicles for his more preposterous misstatements. And that, of course, is precisely the charge that former Governor Siegelman has very convincingly laid at Rove’s doorstep.

Today’s New York Times takes a look at the Rove-Siegelman business and comes to the obvious conclusion: Karl Rove needs to be sworn and subjected to rigorous interrogation before an appropriate Congressional oversight committee. And in this case, that means the House Judiciary Committee, which is probing allegations of politically manipulated prosecution and has already found a mound of evidence.

Mr. Rove, who has traded in his White House job for that of talking head, talked a lot but didn’t answer the question. He also did not directly deny being involved. The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed him to testify. It should do everything in its power to see that he does and that he answers all of its questions.

The House has the inherent power to arrest and hold a person who flouts its subpoenas. It’s an authority that hasn’t been used for decades. But Karl Rove offers the best case in recent memory for dusting off this power and putting it to use. The issues at stake are enormous. They include the integrity of the criminal justice process and the notion that the Congress can use the powers the Constitution vests in it to examine serious misconduct in the Executive Branch. At present, the Justice Department has reached its modern reputational low point, and the Congress is widely perceived as a constitutional hood ornament. Resolve and action are long past due.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

November 2014

Stop Hillary!

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

How the Islamic State was Won

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Cage Wars

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Everyday Grace

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Stop Hillary!·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"What Hillary will deliver, then, is more of the same. And that shouldn’t surprise us."
Photograph by Joe Raedle
Post
A Band of Her Own·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"What in the poem is an unappealing display becomes, with the addition of the soul-influenced, flute-inflected background, funny, almost self-consciously so."
Photograph by AP/Bill Chaplis
Article
Cage Wars·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"In the 1970s, “Chickens’ Lib” was a handful of women in flower-print dresses holding signs, but in the past decade farm hens have become almost a national preoccupation."
Photograph by Adam Dickerson/Big Dutchman USA, courtesy Vande Bunte Farms
Article
Paradise Lost·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Suffering Sappho! Here we still are, marching right into yet another century with our glass ceilings, unequal pay, unresolved work and child-care balance, and still marrying, forever marrying, men."
Illustration by Anthony Lister
Article
Off the Land·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Nearly half the reservation lives below the poverty line, with unemployment as high as 60 percent, little to no infrastructure, few entitlements, a safety net that never was, no industry to speak of, and a housing crisis that has been dire not for five years but since the reservation’s founding in 1855."
Illustration by Stan Fellows

Jobs created by every billion dollars of U.S. government defense spending:

21,000

Artists tend to have twice as many sexual partners as noncreative people.

Swiss retailer Migros cut off ties with a collectible-creamer company following the distribution of 2,000 creamers whose lids bore images of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. “You cannot put Pol Pot or a terrorist on a milk creamer,” said a Migros spokesman.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today