Rove e-mails subpoenaed

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Judiciary squares off over John Lewis voting rights bill Senate Democrats introduce legislation to strengthen Voting Rights Act 92 legal scholars call on Harris to preside over Senate to include immigration in reconciliation MORE (D-Vt.) issued a subpoena yesterday to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for all e-mails from White House adviser Karl Rove that relate to the 2006 firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

In a letter to Gonzales, Leahy also harshly criticized the Department of Justice (DoJ) for not being responsive to congressional requests for information.

“I continue to hope that the Department will cooperate with the Committee’s investigation, but it is troubling that significant documents highly relevant to the Committee’s inquiry have not been produced,” Leahy said.
ADVERTISEMENT

The subpoena requires Gonzales to appear before the committee on May 15 and to provide “all e-mails and attachments to e-mails to, from, or copied to Karl Rove related to the Committee’s investigation into the preservation of prosecutorial independence and the Department of Justice’s politicization of the hiring and firing and decision-making of United States Attorneys.”

Leahy stipulated that the subpoena cover Rove’s White House, Republican National Committee and other e-mail accounts that are in the “possession, custody or control” of DoJ.

Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act To Win 2022: Go big on reconciliation and invest in Latinx voters McConnell-aligned group targeting Kelly, Cortez Masto and Hassan with M ad campaign MORE (D-N.Y.) applauded Leahy’s decision to issue the subpoena.

“After months of contradictions and unanswered questions, the arrow points more and more toward the White House,” Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer, who says Rove is a “key person in this investigation,” wants to go a step further and has also called on him to testify.

The panel has in fact approved subpoenas for Rove and other current and former White House staffers, but it has not yet issued them. That leaves open a window for Congress and the Bush administration to reach a deal allowing for voluntary testimony. But those negotiations appear to have stalled as neither side is willing to cede ground.

Leahy had asked for the Rove e-mails when Gonzales testified before the panel last month and repeated that request in a follow-up letter. But the senator said he had not heard back from Gonzales on the issue.

The chairman noted that asking DoJ to produce voluntarily documents related to the attorney firings has yielded unsatisfactory results. Leahy said that DoJ’s compliance with such requests has been “selective and incomplete,” adding that “many documents have been withheld or redacted without any legal basis being set forth.”

As more details of the attorney firings have been made public, and as Gonzales has made statements that seem inconsistent with other evidence, the attorney general’s support among Republicans has waned. Gonzales still enjoys the full support of President Bush, but several GOP lawmakers have called for his resignation. The attorney general faced tough questions from several Bush loyalists during the April 19 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Further evidence that Republicans are frustrated with Gonzales and DoJ comes in a letter that several senators sent him yesterday. Signed by Leahy and the panel’s ranking Republican, Arlen Specter (Pa.), as well as Sens. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US MORE (R-Ala.), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products MORE (R-Iowa), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinJane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Council on Mental Wellbeing — Merck asks FDA to authorize five-day COVID-19 treatment Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ MORE (D-Calif.) and Schumer, it demands answers regarding an internal DoJ memo that surfaced this week.

The lawmakers reference a National Journal article from Monday that says Gonzales signed a secret order in March 2006 giving two of his aides broad authority over the hiring and firing of most of DoJ’s political employees. Both aides, Gonzales’s former chief of staff Kyle Sampson and White House liaison Monica Goodling have resigned in the wake of the attorney firings scandal.

The senators also ask in their letter why the confidential March 2006 order was not included in the documents that DoJ has provided to the committee.

“The order appears to be responsive to the Committee’s requests insofar as it dealt with the appointment and removal of inferior officers who are not subject to Senate confirmation, which would include interim and acting U.S. Attorneys,” the senators wrote.