Grassley backs subpoenas for Rove, Miers

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) voted with Democrats Thursday to give Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) the authority to subpoena current and former White House officials, including presidential adviser Karl Rove, to get more information on the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

The panel voted by voice vote on the authority, but Grassley said he wanted the record to show that he voted “yes” on the issue.

During the committee’s debate on the subpoenas, ranking member Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) urged of his colleagues “that we not move forward to have a confrontation with the president on this issue.”

He proposed to make a counter-proposal on how Rove and others could be made available to Congress. Earlier this week, the White House said the aides to President Bush could discuss aspects of the firing of the attorneys in private and not under oath. Democrats have called those conditions unacceptable, while the White House said the proposal is its only offer and would be withdrawn if Democrats issue subpoenas.

“I would prefer to see an open session,” Specter said, indicating some reservations about the White House proposal. “I think the American people are very concerned about what’s gone on. I think that people have a right to know.”

Specter added that, if his proposal would not get the desired results, the option of subpoenas would still be on the table.

Democrats, on the other hand, stressed that, at this time, they only want the authority to issue subpoenas, arguing this would strengthen Congress’s hand as it investigates the issue.