A meeting with Karl

Why was Rove advising the Justice Department on what to tell Congress about the prosecutor purge?

Published May 4, 2007 1:45PM (EDT)

One more reason Congress might want to see Karl Rove's e-mails about the prosecutor purge: Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey has told a House Judiciary subcommittee that Rove attended a meeting with Justice Department officials on March 5, 2007, in which White House officials told the folks from Justice that they'd need to agree on clear reasons for why they fired eight U.S. attorneys and then convey those reasons to Congress.

Josh Marshall asks the obvious question: "Why do you need to 'agree on clear reasons why each prosecutor was fired' if the reasons were actually clear when you did the firing ...?"

We've known about this meeting before. E-mail messages provided to the House Judiciary Committee mention the meeting, which was scheduled for the evening before Deputy Attorney General William Moschella was to testify on the firings before the committee. Its purpose, according to the pre-meeting e-mail traffic: "To go over the administration's position on all aspects of the US Atty issue and why the US Attys were asked to resign."

What we didn't know was that Rove himself was in attendance. As Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports, this new piece of the puzzle has "some investigators" saying that it now appears "the president's chief political advisor may have been involved in an attempt to mislead Congress -- one more reason they are demanding to see his emails and force him to testify under oath."

If the White House acknowledges Rove's presences at the meeting, it will surely argue that there was nothing wrong with having the president's political team involved in helping the administration figure out how to deal with Congress. The problem: As Isikoff notes, Rove apparently told Moschella and other Justice Department officials during the meeting that "you all need to explain what you did and why you did it" -- without bothering to acknowledge that both he and the White House had a hand in the "what" and the "why."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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