Think that just because Bush is gone, there’s no chance of righting the wrongs that were committed? Think again.
Karl Rove has been re-subpoenaed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to talk about the ‘allegedly’ politically-motivated Justice Dept. firings, as well as the ‘allegedly’ politically-motivated investigation of the former Democratic governor of Alabama.
Rove had refused to obey the previous subpoena based on the grounds that former presidential advisers didn’t have to do such things. A federal judge has seen it differently. Plus, the change of administration now gives Congress more clout.
Before Obama came in, thereby changing the U.S. Attorneys, it was all fairly complicated. Former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean threw in his two cents, as well as citing an article about how this is uncharted territory. Most of the time, these cases are resolved outside of the realm of the courts. To achieve contempt of Congress, one branch of Congress votes on it (which the House has already done with Rove, as well as former Bush administration officials Bolten and Miers), then it gets passed to the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C.
Despite whatever constitutional duty the Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney would have had to Congress to submit the case to a grand jury, they could have also argued that such a constitutional duty violates their other constitutional duty to “executive privilege” and steered clear. The option of Congress itself arresting the officials didn’t seem to be one that was considered. And if it was pursued in federal court, the amount of authority the judicial system should have in a case that involves the checks and balances of the other two branches would come into question.
In the end, the old constitutional conundrums are inconsequential. With the Obama administration comes a change in the U.S. Attorneys, and Congress, if necessary, can now push it toward more friendly eyes and ears.
Perhaps Karl Rove will see that the stars are aligning against him. But if Rove defies Congress again, get ready to see the grand jury.