New email (released by Rove?) reveal 'greater role than previously understood in the firing of federal prosecutors'
Continues the old 'voter fraud' canard...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2009, 2:23pm PT  

[Updated 8/3/09: Republican attorney and whistleblower Jill Simpson says Rove broke the law in given his interviews to to WaPo and NYTimes. See update at bottom of article for details.]

Well, this is interesting...Seems Rove has now met a second time behind closed doors with the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today, according to this breaking report from Washington Post which also includes a review of newly disclosed email showing he "and other high-ranking figures in the Bush White House played a greater role than previously understood" in the U.S. Attorney Purge.

WaPo reports "The e-mails emerged as Rove finished his second day of closed-door-testimony Thursday about the firings to the House Judiciary Committee." He had previously met with Judiciary Committee members in early July.

Keep in mind, as you read the article, that their piece feeds off of an "hour-long interview with The Post and the New York Times this month", so the piece is likely to offer a Rove-friendly framing to be taken with a grain of salt or three. Eg. "Rove described himself as merely passing along complaints by senators and state party officials to White House lawyers."

Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel concurs there is much "Rove spin" throughout the piece. She also asserts the newly revealed email may well have come from Rove and/or his attorney Robert Luskin who have a habit of leaking friendly documents to media whenever convenient, and in hopes of controlling the public reportage. Papers like WaPo and NYTimes have been historically all too happy to serve them to that end over the years.

The paper also reports the WaPo/NYTimes interview was "conducted on the condition that it not be released until Rove's House testimony concluded." So the release of the piece would seem to signal that the behind-closed-doors testimony --- about which our Judiciary sources have been incredibly tight-lipped --- has now ended. Rove, and Harriet Miers, however, could still be called for public testimony before the committee according to the agreement between Bush Administration attorneys and the Judiciary Committee, as (questionably) brokered by the Obama White House. It also means that Judiciary sources may well begin revealing details and/or transcripts of the interviews soon, now that they've concluded (as per the agreement). So, of course, Rove is trying to get out in front of that with his own spin.

Here's WaPo's lede...

Political adviser Karl Rove and other high-ranking figures in the Bush White House played a greater role than previously understood in the firing of federal prosecutors almost three years ago, according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post, in a scandal that led to mass Justice Department resignations and an ongoing criminal probe.

The e-mails and new interviews with key participants reflect contacts among Rove, aides in the Bush political affairs office and White House lawyers about the dismissal of three of the nine U.S. attorneys fired in 2006: New Mexico's David C. Iglesias, the focus of ire from GOP lawmakers; Missouri's Todd Graves, who had clashed with one of Rove's former clients; and Arkansas's Bud Cummins, who was pushed out to make way for a Rove protege.

UPDATE: NYTimes' article confirms the emails came from Rove himself. Their lede is even more favorable to him, in his attempt to downplay his role in the firings of 9 Republican U.S. Attorneys who, among other things, were not pursuing phony "voter fraud" investigations enough for the GOP, or otherwise pursuing corruption charges against Republican officials.

As in WaPo's coverage, NYTimes offers Rove's spin that he "did not involve himself in the details of the dismissals" and merely "went along" with the firings (rather than helped orchestrate them).

Here's a particularly fresh spin on the entire affair from Rove, that I don't recall seeing before...

Mr. Bush, according to Mr. Rove, had in principle favored periodically rotating people in appointive jobs since he was governor of Texas.

They were just "rotating" folks? Right.

Here's the Times' lede:

Karl Rove, addressing an issue stemming from his role as a top adviser to President George W. Bush, said in an interview that he played only a peripheral role in the dismissal of nine federal prosecutors in 2006, though he did turn over to the Justice Department complaints about the United States attorney in New Mexico and openly favored a former associate for a prosecutor’s job in Arkansas.

Mr. Rove, who on Thursday completed two days of testimony in a closed session with investigators from the House Judiciary Committee, said he could not answer one of the lingering questions that the panel had hoped to resolve: whether it was the White House that came up with the idea of firing the prosecutors.

“I can’t even tell you who brought it up,” Mr. Rove said earlier this month in the office of his lawyer, Robert D. Luskin.

Mr. Rove portrayed himself as having “a lot on my plate,” though some e-mail messages about his activities, which he provided as part of the interview, indicated Mr. Rove’s interest in the prosecutors, appointed by the president.

And again, in the Times piece, the "voter fraud" canard is forwarded by Rove:

“I am concerned about voter fraud,” he said, noting that it was “far more of a problem and widespread” than has been acknowledged. “It always mystified me why the issue was not a higher priority for the Justice Department. I never got a satisfactory answer."

Perhaps the answer, Karl, was that while election fraud by insiders such as yourself, is certainly a concern, "voter fraud" is not actually a substantive problem --- at least not at the polling place --- other than for Republicans who hope to use the specter of same as a way to limit which legal voters are actually allowed to cast their legal vote. Or for Ann Coulter, who actually did commit voter fraud. Several times, apparently. Though Rove didn't bother to sic his prosecutors on her, oddly enough.

John Boyd, a Democratic New Mexico election attorney, by way of example of the GOP's "voter fraud" initiative in NM, where David Iglesias was pushed out as USA, offered exclusive details to The BRAD BLOG in early 2007, on the thousands of phony "voter fraud" complaints brought to the U.S. Attorney in NM by Republican officials just before the 2004 election. Just one of those complaints --- a 16 year old kid who filled out a registration form as a joke --- out of thousands that bogged down the office, was found by Iglesias to have any merit whatsoever.

And, of course, our coverage of the GOP's years-long, phony ACORN "voter fraud" canard is covered in hundreds of BRAD BLOG articles. The 2008 collection is here.

UPDATE 8/3/09: Did Rove break his agreement and illegally obstruct justice in giving his interviews to WaPo and the NYTimes? Attorney and Republican whistleblower Jill Simpson says he sure did...

Simpson says Rove violated 18 U.S. Code 1505 by granting interviews with The New York Times and the Washington Post, which ran last week after his second round of testimony before staff members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Rove also provided copies of selected e-mails to reporters, messages that apparently indicate his role in the U.S. attorney firings was small.

Did Rove commit a crime? The applicable law is titled "Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees," and Simpson says Rove violated it. Breaking the law carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. Says Simpson:

"He violated the congressional investigation by talking to the newspapers. The statute is clear . . . I think we have a bingo. Mr Rove ran his mouth and should be charged and sentenced to five years. . . . By releasing what he said, he has put all who may testify on notice to doctor their testimony (accordingly). That is why his testimony was supposed to be secret. Shame on Karl. But he has committed a crime; now time will tell what they do with it. Also it is clearly an intentional act."

Share article...