Attorney Says Rove Can’t Testify Without White House Permission

Posted April 17, 2008 at 5:32pm

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) again has asked former White House political director Karl Rove to testify before his committee. This time, he wants Rove to talk about allegations that Justice Department prosecutions were politically motivated and driven by Rove. Conyers cited comments made by Rove attorney Robert Luskin to MSNBC. Luskin told the network that Rove would be willing to testify about federal prosecutions because he has nothing to hide and has done nothing wrong. MSNBC provided Roll Call with an e-mail exchange with Luskin that the network broadcast in which a producer asked, “Will Karl Rove agree to testify if Congress issues a subpoena to him as part of an investigation into the Siegelman case?” “Sure,” wrote Luskin, according to the e-mail. “Although it seems to me that the question is somewhat offensive. It assumes he has something to hide.” But in an interview with Roll Call, Luskin said that his MSNBC comments were taken out of context. “Whether, when and about what a former White House official will testify … is not for me or my client to decide,” but is part of an ongoing negotiation between the White House and Congress over executive privilege issues, Luskin said. Conyers said witnesses have reported that Rove agreed to pressure the Justice Department to prosecute Don Siegelman, the former Democratic governor of Alabama. Siegelman ultimately was convicted of corruption charges and was just released from jail, pending an appeal. Luskin said Conyers has not contacted him directly about Rove’s testimony. He also reiterated that Rove “had absolutely no role whatsoever” in the decision to prosecute Siegelman. Siegelman charges that Rove targeted him for prosecution to ensure that he did not win re-election to the governor’s mansion. But Conyers probably won’t have much luck in luring Rove to talk to lawmakers. Last year, his committee approved a subpoena for Rove to testify in connection with the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. The committee never actually issued a subpoena for the White House aide. Democrats and the White House are locked in a court battle over a contempt of Congress resolution related to the blocking of testimony by current and former White House aides in the U.S. attorneys matter.