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The NYT’s Top Priority? Getting Karl Rove

From the editorial Solons of the New York Times:

Holding Mr. Rove in Contempt

September 17, 2008

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is deciding what matters should get priority in the short time left before Congress adjourns this month. Her list must include a vote to hold Karl Rove in contempt for his lawless decision to defy a Congressional subpoena to testify about the United States attorneys scandal. There is a vital national interest in getting to the bottom of this matter — and in not allowing Congress’s authority to be undermined.

It has been nearly two years since Congress first began asking questions about the firing of nine United States attorneys, who appear to have been removed for partisan political reasons. Mr. Rove may have been directly involved in these possibly illegal firings, but he has not told Congress what he knows. In defiance of a legally binding subpoena, he refused this summer to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

Congress’s investigation of the United States attorneys matter is of the utmost importance. It now seems clear that the Justice Department under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales operated as a partisan political actor, using its prosecutorial authority to help the party in power win elections. That was a grave abuse, which undermined American democracy.

There are real victims in this scandal. Don Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, was sentenced to seven years in prison as a result of a prosecution that appears to have been politically motivated. Mr. Siegelman is free pending an appeal, but he has already served part of the sentence and could end up returning to prison.

Congress is also pushing to obtain testimony and documents from Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel. Mr. Bolten and Ms. Miers have also defied Congressional subpoenas. The House voted to hold them in contempt in February, and it is fighting in court right now to force them to testify.

A Federal District Court judge appointed by President Bush ordered them to comply with the subpoenas, but the administration appealed the ruling. Attorney General Michael Mukasey is also doing his best to block Congress from getting the testimony it is entitled to. Clearly, the administration’s goal is to run out the clock, to get out of town before the subpoenas are enforced.

The House needs to start pushing just as hard on Mr. Rove. The important step is for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote on holding him in contempt in the next two weeks. The House is eager to adjourn — the members want to get back to their districts so they can campaign for re-election. But it would be a mistake to leave without taking this vote.

There are many vital principles at stake, but none is more important than the power of Congress itself. In this era of expanding presidential authority, Congress is a critical check on executive branch abuses. It cannot perform this function if it allows members of the executive branch to flout its subpoenas and its oversight.

It’s good to see the New York Times has its priorities in order.

After all, what could be more important in these precarious times than a meaningless Congressional gesture against a man who did nothing wrong, about a subject which the Congress has no jurisdiction?

Still, it is always fun to watch the New York Times yell and stomp their little feet.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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