Are We Calling This Victory?
You all probably know by now that Karl Rove was deposed in front of House Judiciary Committee staffers the other day, about the US Attorneys scandal and the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. But what you don't know, and what I don't know, and what nobody knows, is why. At some level, I'm glad that Congress was able to assert a modicum of its authority and at least get Rove (and apparently, Harriet Miers back in June) on the record with a set of questions. But to what end? Certainly not one of precedent, and not an investigative one as well, it seems.
The White House's foot-dragging may have inflicted some measure of political damage. But in terms of the legal repercussions, by coming to a deal while the case was still pending in an appeals court, the Bushies have largely succeeded in one of their goals: ensuring that no clear precedent has been established limiting the president's power to claim executive privilege in such cases. And the Obama White House's role in helping to secure the deal for Rove's testimony suggests that's an outcome they wanted too.
As for the underlying issue -- the quest to learn what really happened in the firings and the Siegelman prosecution, things remain murky at best. There are conflicting reports about whether Rove will sit for another day of testimony. It's also unclear when and how the committee will decide which parts of Rove's testimony, if any, can be made public, and in what form the probe's findings will be released.
Siegelman, quoted later in the piece, thinks John Conyers will continue to investigate until he finds the truth. He must be an eternal optimist. This has reached the point where Republicans can demagogue with the words "old news," and that was precisely the Bush White House's goal. Even if House Judiciary eventually cobbles together a report and makes recommendations, the chances of the Justice Department taking whatever recommendations concern accountability measures are, in a word, remote. They haven't even moved to set aside the verdict on Siegelman, though I did notice that the Justice Department whistleblower in the case has been fired. At least someone is held to account, right?