Specter turns up the heat

What exactly did Rove tell James Dobson?

Published October 10, 2005 12:56PM (EDT)

As if Karl Rove didn't have enough to deal with, along comes Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter to ratchet up the pressure on the embattled White House advisor.

According to a report on Bloomberg.com, this past weekend Specter went on the ABC News program "This Week" and announced he wanted to know more about presidential advisor Karl Rove's private assurances to Focus on the Family president James Dobson as to how Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers would supposedly decide future cases should she be appointed to the bench.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee is entitled to know whatever the White House knew," Specter said. "If Dr. Dobson knows something that he shouldn't know or something that I ought to know, I'm going to find out," the senator continued.

Dobson has come out more or less in support of Miers, a position he took as a result of confidential discussions with Rove. As to what exactly some of those discussions entailed, Dobson has been tight-lipped, saying only that "some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about."

Although Specter stopped short of saying he would subpoena either Rove or Dobson to testify about the matter, that hasn't stopped Democrats like Sen. Patrick Leahy from speaking out on the subject. "If assurances were given of how any nominee, whether this nominee or anybody else, and somebody gives assurances how they're going to vote in an upcoming case, I would vote against that person," he told ABC.

As President Bush used his Saturday morning radio address to try to quell the mutiny from restive conservatives over the court nomination, it is unclear yet whether Miers will survive the gathering political storm -- and as Rove faces possible federal indictments for his role in the CIA leak case, the same could be said for him too.

By J.J. Helland

J.J. Helland is Salon's editorial fellow in New York.

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