WASHINGTON — A House panel Wednesday voted to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena to answer questions about the dismissals of several federal prosecutors as its Senate counterpart explored punishments for an array of alleged past and present Bush administration misdeeds.
Voting 20-14 along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee said that Rove had broke the law by failing to appear at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether Rove encouraged prosecutions against Democrats such as former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
The committee decision is only a recommendation, and it was unclear whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would allow a final vote. Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
With little more than three months before Election Day, it wasn’t clear whether majority Democrats could take any substantial action in a political environment in which time for the current Congress is running short and lawmakers face a host of daunting legislative problems and a cluttered calendar….
Instead of conducting witch hunts, we should consider bipartisan legislation to reduce the price of gas, reduce crime and secure the borders,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the panel.
But Democrats cited recent internal audits finding that politics heavily shaped Justice Department hiring, and they said that Rove had left them with no choice but to support a contempt citation.
“His name has come up repeatedly in the hearings on this subject,” said Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich. “Yet he refuses to testify based on legally invalid claims of immunity privilege.”
So, the question I pose to the floor: Should the Congress be concerning itself with Rove’s refusal to testify or should it instead focus on the many issues facing the country that may require attention (the economy and the war come to mind)? I have a rather strong opinion on this, but I am wondering what you folks think. I suppose I’ll reveal my own sentiment if this post gets any responses.