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Despite a subpoena for his testimony, former White House senior aide Karl Rove did not appear before a House Judiciary subcommittee Thursday, a decision that may prompt the panel to hold Rove in contempt of Congress.

Echoing the decisions of other Bush administration aides who have been called before the committee, Rove cited executive privilege in his decision not to appear.

“According to letters we have received from his counsel, former Presidential Advisor Karl Rove has refused to appear today to answer questions in accordance with his obligations under the subpoena served on him, based on claims that ‘Executive Privilege confers upon him immunity’ from even appearing to testify,” Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law Chairwoman Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

House Democrats had demanded Rove’s appearance as part of ongoing inquiries into political influence in the Justice Department, particularly in the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D).

Sánchez moved Thursday to declare Rove had broken the law by not appearing before the panel.

“We are unaware of any proper legal basis for Mr. Rove’s refusal even to appear today as required by subpoena,” Sánchez said. “The courts have made clear that no one, not even the president, is immune from compulsory process.”

Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) criticized his Democratic colleagues in a statement on Thursday, noting that Rove had offered to testify informally on earlier occasions.

“It’s clear that today’s hearing is a likely prelude to another recommendation of contempt to the House and the debate of another contempt citation on the floor,” Smith said in a statement.

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