Senior Democratic House Judiciary member confident rule of law will be followed by Dept. of Justice under President Obama
NEWSWEEK: Before leaving office, Bush counsel ordered Rove, others, not to testify to Congress, arguing 'absolute immunity' from compelled testimony...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2009, 12:33pm PT  

A senior Democratic Congressman on the U.S. House Judiciary has said that either Karl Rove will testify before the committee, or he will go to jail. In the meantime, it has also now been learned, legal counsel for George W. Bush issued a letter just days before leaving the White House, claiming Rove, Bush, and other senior staffers have "absolute immunity" from testifying to Congress in the future.

Speaking on MSNBC, Judiciary member Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said last night that if Rove fails to show, in answer to a subpoena issued earlier this week, he'll be cited for Contempt of Congress. Then, he said, "the grand jury indicts him, you arrest him for contempt, and you put him in jail until he is prepared to testify to obey the subpoena." (More details, as well as video of the Nadler interview, follow below.)

On Monday, Rep. John Conyers, chair of the committee, issued a subpoena to the former senior Bush operative and current Fox "News" analyst, requiring him to appear to give testimony next Monday, February 2nd, "regarding his role in the Bush Administration’s politicization of the Department of Justice, including the US Attorney firings and the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman."

On Wednesday, Rove told his colleague Bill O'Reilly, on The O'Reilly Factor that he doesn't intend to answer the subpoena, on the belief that Bush's previous claims of Executive Privilege exempted him from having to even show up before the committee.

[UPDATE: AP reports late Friday that Conyers has rescheduled Rove's hearing for Feb. 23rd, in order to "give Rove's lawyer time to consult with the Obama administration and learn whether the new president would uphold Bush's order against testifying."]

Nadler claimed Thursday night that, while a similar dance with Rove (subpoena, snub, contempt citation, referral to the U.S. Attorney in D.C.) had happened previously, the Justice Dept., which did not do its duty in enforcing the citation previously, would be more likely to do so, now that Bush is no longer in charge of the DoJ.

"If he refuses to show up, we vote a contempt citation...the law then says a contempt citation...is given to the U.S. Attorney, quote, this is the law, 'whose duty it shall be', unquote, to deliver it to the grand jury," Nadler explained. "In otherwords, he must prosecute and enforce the subpoena."

"President Bush, as in so many other things, simply ignored the law, and instructed the U.S. Attorney not to obey the law, and not to enforce the subpoena," last time this occurred, the Congressman said. "I imagine President Obama will not do the same," he added, with emphasis on the word "not."

Here's the video of Nadler's interview on MSNBC last night, via RAW STORY, in which he describes the legal process at this point, and beyond, as expected by his committee...

In the meantime, Newsweek is reporting that, just four days before leaving office, Bush's legal counsel sent a letter on White House stationery instructing Rove "that the President continues to direct him not to provide information (whether in the form of testimony or documents) to the Congress in this matter."

However, while the letter contends that Bush "and his immediate advisers are absolutely immune from testimonial compulsion by a congressional committee," that argument, as RAW STORY's John Byrne notes, "is losing the battle in court" and could become "trouble for Rove and [and WH Counsel Harriet] Miers [who has also snubbed a Congressional subpoena] --- and ultimately, President Bush."

"After Rove refused to show up for a subpoena the Judiciary Committee issued last year, the House of Representatives' lawyers sued to compel testimony, asserting that immunity should not apply in Rove and Miers' case," reports Byrne. "A federal judge agreed," with the committee, though "the case is now in appeal with a District of Columbia court."

Nadler contended, in his MSNBC interview, that Rove has no basis for asserting Executive Privilege in this matter, since the White House has previously claimed they know nothing about the unprecedented firings of U.S. Attorneys, and the other related matters.