August 2nd, 2007
02:21 PM ET
12 years ago

White House staffer refuses to testify, Rove a no-show at Senate hearing

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House's deputy political director skirted at least a dozen questions from a Senate committee Thursday about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year, asserting - as expected - a claim of executive privilege by President Bush.

Scott Jennings, who also is a special assistant to the president, arrived at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with his attorney, Mark Paoletta, to be sure he didn't commit a violation.

The panel had subpoenaed both Jennings and Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, but Rove refused to show up, angering Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt.

"I consider that blanket claim (of executive privilege) to be unsubstantiated," Leahy said he told Jennings before the meeting.

White House Counsel Fred Fielding informed the committee Wednesday that Rove, "as an immediate adviser to the president," can't be ordered to testify and was told not to attend.

More: Rove a no-show at hearing, aide skirts questions

Filed under: Karl Rove • U.S. attorney firings
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Cynthia, St. Louis, MO

    Karl Rove is a real *Fat Bastard*! This is ENOUGH–Bush's "regime" needs to be ousted. Treason, impeach the foolish idiot!! Dear God!

    August 2, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Mr Leahy – if you believe the President does not have grounds for executive privilege, stop having a tantrum and puruse the matter in Federal court. Continuing to issue subpoenas, citing contempt of Congress, etc appears to be a dog-n-pony show and you're not really interested in testing the President's use of Executive Privilege.

    Either take the issue to court or stop wasting our tax dollars with these useless subpoenas that you KNOW will be refused.

    August 2, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. S Bengtson

    This is proof there is a cover up of some kind. Hopefully this story does not get forgot because of the unfortunate bridge collapse. Corruption and cover up in are governments highest branches should be are greatest concern, Rove needs to answer for what he did, if he didn’t do any thing he wont mind answering some questions. And after we get rove let’s go after Bush and Chenney we could make a pretty good case for crimes against humanity, come on look at Iraq.

    August 2, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. Prabhu

    Democrats need backbone to stand up to this bullying President. If impeachment is off the table, Pelosi needs to step down and let another Democract who has guts to take the challenge.

    August 2, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Bob, New York, NY

    How is Mr Rove any more treasonous then Mr Reid who declared the war in Iraq lost. Seeing as how much Mr Reid complained about the "Mission accomplished' statement, you would think he would think before opening his mouth, inserting his foot, and swallowing. Mr Reid also agreed to let General Paetraeus try to do his job and then turned around and went back to trying to pull troops out as soon as possible.

    But hey what do you expect, both parties have a good share of complete idiots who are worried about themselves. They could care less about the oath they took or the fact that they are there to serve the American people and not just themselves.

    August 2, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. Jeannie in Sacramento, CA

    Reply to Jon in Sacramento:

    Get yourself an education before you post an opinion on this esteemed venue. Before Leahy can test executive privilege in Court, he needs to cite a violation. He's doing that by issuing a subpoena. The White House gnoring that subpoena IS the violation. It's called Contempt of Congress.

    This is not a dog and pony show. It's a legitimate request to get the truth from King George, who doesn't know the meaning of it. If Bill Clinton can be taken to task for oral sex in the Oval Office then lying about it, the weasel George Bush can be called to account for illegal spying on Americans, Abu Ghraib, outing a CIA officer, and other such atrocious actions.

    August 2, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Jenny, Rio Vista CA

    Congress needs to impeach Gonzo so that the DOJ has the ability to do their job. This administration has made a mockery of the constitution and the justice department. Imagine if someone like Cheney (Guiliani comes to mind) becomes president and then starts using all this power this idiot president has given himself.
    I just hope someone with some respect becomes president and cleans up this mess. However, it's going to be hard for someone who has been given a lot of power to relinquish some of it.

    August 2, 2007 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. Scott Austin, TX

    Rove is protected from on high by the Prince of Darkness himself, so ignoring a congressional subpoena means nothing to him.

    August 2, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. Jim Howard, Newport, RI

    Leahy, you are in need of some classic advice best served by an old Chinese proverb, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, then to open your mouth and prove it!"

    There is not a snoball's chance that this administration is going to scuttle the precedent of executive privilige for something as petty as this. If this precedent is lost, then what comes next? Are you going to demand that the President publish the nuclear codes. Those are protected by Executive Privilige, when does the posturing stop so that your Congress with lower approval ratings than the President can actually pass ONE legislative measure? Just one. Anyone?

    August 2, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. Josh

    It is hard to predict that the witness will answer one question and then refuse to answer the same question worded differently. For example, Jennings answered a question regarding a meeting he had at breakfast with some staffers related to the firings. Then he wouldn't answer another question about another meeting because they weren't eating breakfast at the time of the meeting. It seems that eggs determine whether a meeting is privileged or not.

    August 2, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. Will - Miami, Fl

    For those of you that are so ignorant to believe that Congress has oversight of the management of the justice department, you need to do some reading. The President has authority and does not have to answer to Congress about the hiring/firing of US Attorneys.

    For Cynthia, calling Karl Rove a "fat bastard" is pretty asinine. You probably couldn't even tell us what Karl Rove does – what position he holds. You are simply repeating what other dorks have said. Tell me, what do you think Karl Rove has done? Can he be impeached? Does he answer to Congress? The answers to those questions are (in order): nothing, no, and no.

    “The Judiciary Act of 1789 created the Office of the Attorney General which evolved over the years into the head of the Department of Justice and chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government. The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested. In matters of exceptional gravity or importance the Attorney General appears in person before the Supreme Court. Since the 1870 Act that established the Department of Justice as an executive department of the government of the United States, the Attorney General has guided the world's largest law office and the central agency for enforcement of federal laws.”

    Grow up...

    August 2, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Brendose, Oceanside CA

    I have a feeling that Leahy is trying to build a bigger case. Take a look at it this way: the more times the Hitler, I mean Bush administration refuses to comply with Congress' requests, the easier it will be to impeach. Then again, maybe this is a waste of time.

    August 2, 2007 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  13. Tai Carpenter, Maui, Hawaii

    Despite the rush to judgement, let us not forget the ideals that founded this country. All people are innocent until proven guilty – even the slimiest politician and his cronies. Of course, executive privelege could make proving guilt a challenge! I suppose we have to rely on the other ideal that, in part, founded this country: God is the final judge and all those who are guilty will get what is coming to them – if you believe in God that is. Which politicians, as suggested by their actions, do not.

    August 2, 2007 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  14. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Jeannie ~ Sacramento

    Writes, "Get yourself an education before you post an opinion on this esteemed venue. Before Leahy can test executive privilege in Court, he needs to cite a violation. He’s doing that by issuing a subpoena. The White House gnoring that subpoena IS the violation. It’s called Contempt of Congress"

    Exactly HOW MANY aides must be subpoened and cited before they are permitted moving into Federal courts, Jeannie? If I recall – they have voted to cite Harriet Miers. Do they need to subpoena and cite the entire cabinet, their staff, the RNC, and minority leaders?

    You're 3 steps behind on what has already happened, Jeannie. Please try to pay attention.

    August 2, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  15. Jay, Morristown, NJ

    I can not believe this! Can't anyone DO anything? This whole administration needs to be behind bars. Why can't anything be done!!!!!!! I'll take a President that indulges in hanky panky any day of the week over these kinds of unbelievable high crimes. Why is it so transparent to the rest of the world, and nobody in the states is making a stink about it! Our Country might not EVER recover from this nonsense. God save us.

    August 2, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  16. John from America

    Jon from Sacramento – "the official apologists and scumbag lawyer" for the GOP. Jon, I guess you already made your fortune with this corrupt administration and your trying very hard to cover your back to keep it! You seem to be on here full time presumable at GOP expense, now why should we should believe anything you say? I think NOT!

    August 2, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  17. Charles, MA

    Executive privilege, so far, only has precedent if it involves issues of national security. This is not an issue of national security, unless we are talking about a psychologically insecure nation. 'Cause the United States have got some problems.

    Executive privilege is not something that should be thrown around like a baseball. It's been used by only five presidents in the entire history of this country. Bush has used it six times so far. One can safely assume that there is much for this crooked, twisted administration to hide.

    August 2, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  18. myke myers, Stateline, NV

    If the firings were not politically motivated, and if the president had nothing to do with it – then the President's political advisers should not have given any advice to the President regarding the firings. If that's the case, executive privelage does not apply.

    Claiming executive privelage in my opinion is simply a form of saying "yes Karl was involved, and yes – i know about it" on behalf of the president. Otherwise – there would be nothing to hide, and it would be a non-issue. Rove could show up and say "i know nothing about this, i wasn't involved, i didn't advise the President". End of story.

    August 2, 2007 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. snickers, nc

    HA! How much more sophomoric could petty arguing between bloggers be as we watch our democracy fall into decay?

    The O'Reilly/Rove Republican sheep could care not a wit about the crimes being committed by their administration. Nor will they allow anyone else's voices be heard, in the style of this administration.

    It was only a matter of time before this blog site became inhabited by some of those same sheep spoiling for a fight in the inimitable manner of the O'Reilly/Roves. Too bad.

    August 2, 2007 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  20. jenifer, madison, wi

    Jon – I believe I've read that it is up to the Justice Department to decide whether to investigate or pursue these matters in federal court. Since said Department is also under control of Bush (through his corrupt toadie, Gonzales), how is Mr. Leahy supposed to challenge Bush's assertion of Executive Privilege?

    Perhaps by continuing to demand that those people who likely have the information needed to address these matters appear before Congress. Maybe it will result in enough public outrage to force the DOJ to do its job.

    A request has been made for a Special Prosecutor - but again, this request will be acceded or denied by a man placed in power by Bush.

    If my facts are in error, I hope someone will clear up my misconceptions. However, I believe much of what I've stated does present significant problems for Congress to just "pursue the matter in federal court."

    August 3, 2007 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  21. Allen, Redlands CA

    George Bush and his fellow Republicans won elections based to a large extent because they were able to portray themselves as "stand-up" guys, "straight-shooters" if you will. Now whether or not a crime has been committed the administration should be confident enough in its principles to be able to explain what happened. After all, their position on illegal wiretapping was: "If you didn't do anything wrong, don't worry about it." So...if they didn't do anything wrong, they shouldn't worry about it.

    Not exactly what is happening, is it?

    August 3, 2007 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  22. Anonymous

    I wish I could ignore the law like Rove.

    August 3, 2007 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  23. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Jennifer ~ Madison,

    You shared, "I believe I’ve read that it is up to the Justice Department to decide whether to investigate or pursue these matters in federal court. Since said Department is also under control of Bush (through his corrupt toadie, Gonzales), how is Mr. Leahy supposed to challenge Bush’s assertion of Executive Privilege?"

    Actually – here is the way it works:
    1) Congress (House Panel) issues a subpoena.
    2) The recipient either shows and testifies or no-show (or no-testify)
    3) If the recipient no-show (or no-testify) then the House Panel can vote a "Contempt of Congress" issue.
    4) Once the Panel approves Contempt of Congress it gets sent to the floor of the House for a full vote.
    5) If the full house votes to confirm the contempt citation – it then (normally) gets sent to the US Attorney – who then can prosecute the citation. However the US ATtorney CAN refuse to prosecute and can not be coerced by Congress. The US Attorney has already said they will NOT prosecute a citation when the reason for refusal is Executive Privilege.

    Congress does have the option of filing suit in Federal Court to hear the matter and determine if Executive Privilege is appropriate or not. This was done with Nixon and Clinton – both Presidents lost their case.

    So... WHY would the House Panel keep issuing subpoenas (knowing they will be refused... knowing the US attorney will not prosecute) and NOT yet take action in Federal Court?

    Answer: Because calling the President's people to testify (knowing they will refuse) makes great headlines and the appearance the Bush administration is continuing to "hide something". Seeing the administration stiff-arm the House Panel revs up the democratic base that hates this President and improves fundraising.

    Why go for a knock-out punch (Federal Court) if there is a chance you (house panel) might lose? It's politically better to keep your wounded opponent staggering around – at least until the next election. It's never been about the truth.. it's about getting votes.

    PS – To JOHN IN AMERICA – I will take your insult as a "scumbag lawyer" as a compliment. I'm not a lawyer, don't work for the GOP – just a free thinking citizen that still believes in "Innocent until proven guilty".

    August 3, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Charles ~ Ma

    You wrote, "Executive privilege is not something that should be thrown around like a baseball. It’s been used by only five presidents in the entire history of this country. Bush has used it six times so far. One can safely assume that there is much for this crooked, twisted administration to hide."

    Charles, the Supreme Court contradicts your statement. In the effort made by the GAO to pry open the list of visitors to Cheney's energy discussions EP was cited (and upheld).

    In June the Court voted 7-2 that the vice president, at least for the present, did not have to turn over the secret details of his energy task force. The majority agreed with the administration's argument that private deliberations among the president, the vice president and their close advisers are entitled to special treatment under the constitutional principle of executive privilege.

    Using your convict without evidence approach – I guess the Duke Lacrosse players accused of rape by DA, Nifong, should have been put in jail? OH WAIT – they weren't guilty and the prosecuter was doing it simply out to get political mileage. Hmmmmmmm

    August 3, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |