Rove Faces The Music... In Private
After years of wrangling, the House Judiciary Committee will finally receive testimony from Karl Rove and Harriet Miers about their roles in the US Attorneys scandal. Here's the statement:
In an agreement reached today between the former Bush Administration and Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Karl Rove and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in transcribed depositions under penalty of perjury. The Committee has also reserved the right to have public testimony from Rove and Miers. It was agreed that invocations of official privileges would be significantly limited. (emphasis mine)
In addition, if the Committee uncovers information necessitating his testimony, the Committee will also have the right to depose William Kelley, a former White House lawyer who played a role in the U.S. Attorney firings.
The Committee will also receive Bush White House documents relevant to this inquiry. Under the agreement, the landmark ruling by Judge John Bates rejecting key Bush White House claims of executive immunity and privilege will be preserved. If the agreement is breached, the Committee can resume the litigation.
I figure that the Obama Justice Department was going to release the documents anyway, so Rove and Miers could either explain them or not. And the limiting of privilege is good. But I'm a little dismayed that this is all happening in private. It's unclear whether or not the public will have access to the transcriptions generated, but my guess is no.
Here's John Conyers' statement:
“I have long said that I would see this matter through to the end and am encouraged that we have finally broken through the Bush Administration’s claims of absolute immunity. This is a victory for the separation of powers and congressional oversight. It is also a vindication of the search for truth. I am determined to have it known whether U.S. Attorneys in the Department of Justice were fired for political reasons, and if so, by whom.”
Symbolically, this is very important, agreed. Whether it means that the truth will actually be uncovered about who authorized the firings of US Attorneys is less clear.