Thursday, June 21, 2007

Why Isn't Rove In Jail?

He has damaged the institutions of government for years to come, simply because he seems to think that those institutions are there simply to serve his political purposes.

Allegations about Rove
By Josh Marshall
June 15, 2007

A lifelong Republican attorney from Alabama, Dana Jill Simpson, recently came forward and swore out an affidavit alleging Karl Rove’s involvement in the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D). According to Simpson, in 2002, a close associate of Karl Rove’s named William Canary said on a conference call that Rove had told him that he’d gotten the Department of Justice (DoJ) to investigate Siegelman and that he was sure the investigation would eventually take Siegelman out of politics.

Simpson, who was then working for Siegelman’s opponent’s campaign, was on the conference call. And she recalls Canary’s saying “not to worry — that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl and Karl had spoken with the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice was already pursuing Don Siegelman.”

Is the claim true? Was Rove successfully using the DoJ to pursue politics by other means as far back as 2002?

The initial “denials” from Canary and others on the alleged conference call were either feeble, non-responsive or non-existent. As interest in the story heated up last week, the denials firmed up a bit. But they still seemed rather specific and lawyered in their detail.

Then there’s the White House and the Department of Justice.

Had the last five months of revelations never happened, perhaps there’d be no reason for either to deign to deny the charges. But we already have a rather detailed predicate establishing a pattern of political — and specifically Rove’s — interference and inappropriate contacts between the White House political office and Main Justice.

We know that Rove repeatedly passed on complaints to the Justice Department that particular U.S. attorneys were not pressing hard enough on “vote fraud” allegations against Democrats — charges that in every case turned out to be baseless. We also know that Rove passed on complaints in an effort to get particular U.S. attorneys fired.

Given that record, it’s not difficult to believe that he pressed the Justice Department to investigate Siegelman — the Democratic governor of a state Rove had spent a lot of time flipping to the Republicans during the 1990s.

A few journalists have put this question to the DoJ and the White House. Did Rove have any contacts with the DoJ about investigating Siegelman, and did he tell William Canary that Siegelman would be taken care of?

But the White House refuses to answer the question. As does the Department of Justice.

Perhaps the issue here is that the Democrats in Washington won’t press the issue, and thus the press won’t either. And from a political standpoint their position may be understandable, even correct. Siegelman was eventually convicted last year. And he’s set to be sentenced later this month.

There are a number of significant questions about the prosecution, the judge and the trial itself.

But Siegelman may well be guilty as sin. Certainly 12 jurors thought so. And that fact may be enough to scare off Democrats willing to carry a torch for unimpeachable figures like David Iglesias or Carol Lam.

But from the perspective of preserving the rule of law, Siegelman’s guilt or innocence really shouldn’t matter. It can be both. Rove may have been playing games with the Justice Department, getting enemies investigated, and Siegelman may also be guilty.

In other words, the question may not play politically. But we should want to know one way or another whether these allegations about Rove are true.

So who’s going to press this question with the White House and the DoJ? Anyone?

Marshall is editor of . His column appears in The Hill each week.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

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