As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rove Tries To Wiggle Off The Hook

So you have the Washington Post headlining that E-Mails Show Larger White House Role in Prosecutor Firings and the New York Times stating Rove Says His Role in Prosecutor Firings Was Small. Somehow, I assume they're both right, and it all depends on your angle. I mean, I'm sure Rove said he had just a small role in the US Attorney firings. Rove says a lot of things, most of them untrue. I'd prefer to do as WaPo did, and look at the documentary evidence:

The e-mails and new interviews with key participants reflect contacts among Rove, aides in the Bush political affairs office and White House lawyers about the dismissal of three of the nine U.S. attorneys fired in 2006: New Mexico's David C. Iglesias, the focus of ire from GOP lawmakers; Missouri's Todd Graves, who had clashed with one of Rove's former clients; and Arkansas's Bud Cummins, who was pushed out to make way for a Rove protégé [...]

Complaints about Iglesias began at least a year before he was relieved of his job, according to documents reviewed by The Post. Then- Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), his chief of staff, Steve Bell, and GOP lawyers in the state lobbied aggressively to oust the prosecutor. But the activity accelerated in fall 2006.

Responding to questions about another little-understood event, Rove told reporters in the interview this month that he had not seen a letter that Justice Department officials prepared and sent to the Senate on Feb. 23, 2007. The letter stated that "the department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint [protégé] Mr. Griffin" to a top job in Little Rock.

The Justice Department later retracted the statement, which the inspector general concluded was "misleading." [...]

But internal White House correspondence dating to two years earlier suggests that job prospects for Timothy Griffin, who had worked for Rove in the administration, were a hot topic of conversation. In a Feb. 11, 2005, e-mail, Rove wrote to deputy Sara Taylor: "Give him options. Keep pushing for Justice and let him decide. I want him on the team."

Then-White House counsel Miers e-mailed Taylor a month later, writing, "Sara, Karl asked me to forward you a list of locations where we may consider replacing the USAs."

Rove suggested Little Rock, where Cummins was U.S. attorney, as a post for Griffin, reminding Miers in March 2005 that "that's where he's from." The next day, Sara Taylor forwarded communications about Griffin to then-Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who wrote, "let me know his reaction," according to the e-mails.

It's interesting that we're just learning that Rove held an interview with the Times and the Post this month, where he tried to spin them both about his role in the scandal.

In an interview with The Post and the New York Times this month, Rove described himself as a "conduit" of grievances from lawmakers and others about the performance of home-state prosecutors. The e-mails and interview were provided on the condition that they not be released until Rove's House testimony concluded. He said he did not recall several events because of his busy job and asserted that he had done nothing to influence criminal cases, an allegation by Democrats that has dogged him for years. Luskin, Rove's attorney, asserted that "there was never any point where Karl was trying to get a particular prosecution advanced or retarded."

"Yes, I was a recipient of complaints, and I passed them on to the counsel's office to be passed onto Justice," Rove said. The complaints about weak enforcement of voter fraud laws and public corruption "had the sound of authenticity to me. If what I'm told is accurate, it's really troublesome."

The NYT article suggests that Rove selectively leaked emails to put himself in a peripheral role in the firings. I don't know how someone peripheral writes something like “Give me a report on what U.S. attorneys slots are vacant or expected to be open soon,” as Rove did in an email in November 2006.

This is classic Rove - pre-empting whatever leaks come out of the House Judiciary Committee with incriminating but less damaging material that he handpicks to send to the press, who dutifully writes it all up. But Rove appears to be so deep in the US Attorney purges that he cannot credibly spin this away.

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