WASHINGTON – President Bush's former chief political adviser denied meddling in the Justice Department's prosecution of Alabama's ex-governor and said Sunday the courts will have to resolve a congressional subpoena for his testimony.
"Congress, the House Judiciary Committee, wants to be able to call presidential aides on its whim up to testify," Karl Rove said. "It's going to be tied up in court and settled in court."
Last week, the committee ordered Rove to appear July 10. Lawmakers want to ask him about the White House's role in firing nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman, D-Ala.
Also under congressional subpoena are Bush's chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, and his former counsel, Harriet Miers. The White House is citing executive privilege, the doctrine intended to protect the confidentiality of presidential communications, in refusing to let them testify.
The fight over testimony for Bolten and Miers is in federal court and may not be settled until after Bush's term ends in January.
Siegelman was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for a 2006 bribery conviction. He was released in March when a federal appeals court ruled he raised "substantial questions of fact and law" in his appeal. Siegelman has accused GOP operatives of pushing prosecution. His claims were bolstered last year by Republican campaign volunteer Jill Simpson, who issued a sworn statement that she overheard conversations suggesting that Rove was involved in his case.
On Sunday, Rove brushed off suggestions that he meddled in Siegelman's case.
"I found out about Don Siegelman's investigation and indictment by reading about it in the newspaper," Rove said. "I heard about it, read about it, learned about it for the first time by reading about it in the newspaper."
Rove also said his lawyers had offered alternative ways to provide the House committee information short of sworn testimony, but that lawmakers had refused. For example, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, has said Rove could discuss the case on the condition that his comments not be under oath and not be transcribed.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and several other lawmakers, however, have said such an interview "will not permit us to obtain a straightforward and clear record."
Rove spoke on "This Week" on ABC.