No Comment — February 4, 2009, 2:27 pm

Cooperation, Rove Style

On occasion, he compares himself with Grendel, the half-human monster in Beowulf known for cannibalizing his victims. Other times he calls himself Moby Dick, the great white whale of Herman Melville’s epic. In truth Karl Rove enjoys playing both roles—the hunter and the prey, convinced he can outwit and emerge victorious over anyone who pursues him, especially dim-witted federal prosecutors and Congressional investigators. So far, he’s succeeded. In an interview with Murray Waas, Rove’s lawyer, Bob Luskin, drops a few more bombshells. Rove is going to cooperate with the special prosecutor looking into the U.S. attorney’s scandal, he says. Moreover, he reveals that Rove already has sat down and worked with a probe by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) into irregularities surrounding the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

Here’s Professor Jonathan Turley commenting on the disclosures last night on MSNBC:

I think Turley has it right. Rove presents a valiant front, but his position is increasingly perilous. He no longer has an option to avoid cooperating with the special prosecutor’s investigation—if he did refuse, he’d face contempt. Refusing yet again to appear before Congress will inevitably lead to the same process: contempt and jail time.

But this leaves open one mystery. Rove won’t appear before Congress and answer its questions. He won’t cooperate with the Justice Department’s Inspector General, nor will he supply it the documents it requests (even though, as we learn, some of those documents were furnished to the Neocon-laden Office of Legal Counsel at Justice), but he’s willing to cooperate with the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) in their examination of prosecutorial misconduct in the Siegelman prosecution. Indeed, he has already done so, Luskin claims.

My guess: Rove and Luskin have concluded that OPR is not conducting a serious investigation of the Siegelman debacle; instead, it is engaged in a whitewash designed to cover-up the Bush Administration’s manipulation of the case. And if that’s their conclusion, they’re almost certainly right. OPR has been involved in investigations at the periphery of the Siegelman case already, and it has a perfect record of whitewashing and belittling expressions of concern about the prosecutors involved. To a significant measure, the scandal surrounding the politically motivated prosecution of Siegelman is also a scandal surrounding a toothless and dysfunctional OPR.

TPM reports that the OPR’s report is nearing completion. Yet of the list of obvious witnesses who have furnished information concerning prosecutorial misconduct to date, it seems very few have been contacted or interviewed by OPR. A number of individuals who have been contacted have revealed the questions put to them by the OPR representatives: they revolved almost entirely around scandalous and completely irrelevant accusations targeting the principal witness who has leveled accusations at Rove. The OPR investigation into prosecutorial misconduct in going after Siegelman has been redirected, it appears, into an effort vindicate Karl Rove. OPR has also engaged and used individuals from the staff of one of the Siegelman prosecutors to conduct the investigation—hardly people likely to have an open mind as to whether his boss is guilty of misconduct.

I don’t know what the OPR report will state. But I am already persuaded that no serious investigation has been undertaken up to this point, and it is therefore not likely to be much more than yet another in a long line of whitewashes. And in the topsy-turvy world so typical of the Bush Justice Department, the OPR investigators seem to be doing Karl Rove’s bidding, rather than investigating Karl Rove.

Memo to Eric Holder: if you want to do a bit of cost-cutting at Justice, I have a suggestion for you. Dissolve OPR and fold its responsibilities into the Inspector General’s office. Never before were two branches of one agency less equally matched. OIG is professional, rigorous and competent; OPR has slowly turned itself into a national laughing stock. It would be an improvement to simply put it out of business.

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