Democrats want Rove to testify

Congressional Democrats investigating the ouster of at least seven U.S. attorneys have senior White House adviser Karl Rove in their crosshairs, as two senior lawmakers leading the inquiry indicated they would push for testimony from the presidential counselor.

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the No. 3 Democratic leader and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee with jurisdiction over U.S. attorneys, yesterday responded to a series of fresh reports tying Rove to the prosecutors’ firings by asking that the full committee call Rove to the witness table.

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New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Allen Weh told McClatchy News Service over the weekend that he had reached out to Rove for help unseating David Iglesias, the state’s U.S. attorney, whose lack of prompt indictments in a public corruption probe of local Democrats had aggravated GOP heavyweights. 

That report quoted Rove as telling Weh, “He’s gone,” a reference to Iglesias, when the New Mexican followed up on the matter at about the time of the prosecutor’s dismissal. The White House has admitted that another of the fired U.S. attorneys, H.E. “Bud” Cummins of Arkansas, was let go solely to make room for a former Rove aide.

“While the White House states not incorrectly that someone in Karl Rove’s position might get complaints about U.S. attorneys, it is almost unheard-of for a U.S. attorney to be fired shortly after such discussions occur,” Schumer said in a statement yesterday.

During Sunday morning TV appearances, Schumer and fellow Judiciary member Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) called for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales over the U.S. attorneys scandal and unrelated turmoil at the Department of Justice (DoJ).

The House Judiciary Committee late last week requested testimony from six DoJ officials, and Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said yesterday through a spokeswoman that the new reports would prompt Rove’s addition to the list.
“We had previously learned of Karl Rove’s involvement in the firings, and recent stories implicating him in the firing of Mr. Iglesias raise even more alarm bells for us,” Conyers said. “As a result, we would want to ensure that Karl Rove was one of the White House staff that we interview in connection with our investigation.”

House sources said the committee plans to send the White House a list this week of officials whose cooperation with the probe will be requested.