House Judiciary Committee Cites Rove for Contempt

Posted July 30, 2008 at 9:55am

The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday morning to issue a contempt citation to former White House adviser Karl Rove, making him the third Bush aide the panel has sanctioned for failing to appear in the 110th Congress.

The committee split along party lines, approving the citation by a vote of 20-14.

“It’s regrettable, but it has become necessary to pursue this course,” Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said.

Conyers noted the committee worked for more than a year to negotiate Rove’s testimony for its investigations into the firing of U.S. attorneys and alleged selective prosecution, including against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D).

After failing to reach an agreement, it issued a subpoena to Rove in May 2008.

Ranking member Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) disparaged the action as a “witch trial.”

“The relentless efforts to malign an outgoing administration only serve to lower the public’s opinion of Congress,” Smith said.

The House earlier issued contempt citations against former White House counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff Josh Bolten. A lawsuit seeking to enforce those citations is now pending in federal court.

Smith asserted the House should await the results of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the panel against Miers and Bolten.

“We ought to wait for the decision to be made rather than rush a contempt resolution that reeks of partisanship,” he added.

Conyers dismissed that argument, however, stating: “We have no way of knowing when that case will be resolved or how long appeals may take. The judge may address the legal issue of immunity from a subpoena that Mr. Rove is raising here; but then again he may not.”

The citation now goes to the full House for a vote.