WASHINGTON – The attorney for Karl Rove, President Bush's former top political aide, is remaining silent on whether his client will attend a July 10 hearing for which he has been subpoenaed.
Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., sent a letter Monday to Rove attorney Robert Luskin, saying "we expect" Rove to appear before Sanchez's subcommittee.
The letter is the latest in lawmakers' efforts to pry information from Bush administration officials over the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in late 2006 and early 2007. So far, Democrats have been unsuccessful in getting top current and former administration officials to appear at hearings related to the U.S. attorneys matter, although some lower level aides have testified before the committee.
Rove, a longtime friend of the president and a lighting rod for his political tactics, was Bush's chief political adviser and deputy White House chief of staff until he resigned his post in August 2007. Rove now is a FOX News contributor.
Conyers, Sanchez and other Democrats believe the nine attorneys' firings were a political move, a contention the administration has denied. They also wish to question Rove over whether the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was politically motivated.
The letter also indicated Rove's attorney has been open to some discussions over the matter, but not under oath, and with no transcript. Conyers and Sanchez said Rove's attorney wasn't ruling out providing sworn testimony down the road, something administration lawyers oppose.
Luskin issued a statement but did not indicate whether Rove would appear.
"I have no comment on the letter other than to reiterate that Mr. Rove has always been eager to reach an accommodation that addresses the committee's concerns while respecting the President's prerogatives," Luskin said.
Conyers and Sanchez's letter did not indicate what the committee would do if Rove does not appear at the July hearing, but the committee could take action similar to what it did with respect to former White House counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, when they refused to appear before the committee.
In their case, the panel forwarded contempt citations to the full House, which in February approved the citations. That action moved the dispute into the federal courts.
But steps beyond that are difficult, because the contempt citations require a federal prosecutor to pick up the case — in this situation, that prosecutor works for Bush, and his administration has indicated it would not prosecute the case.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend issuing contempt citations for Rove and Bolten, but the measure has not seen a vote on the Senate floor.