House panel votes to hold Rove in contempt

The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to hold Karl Rove in contempt for his defiance of a subpoena.

Published July 30, 2008 5:04PM (EDT)

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 20-14 to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena to testify before the panel.

Rove was supposed to appear at a hearing on July 10 to testify on the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, and other issues relating to the Department of Justice under the Bush administration. President Bush has invoked executive privilege over Rove's testimony as well as testimony from other former White House officials. Rove's attorney did, however, submit a letter to the ranking Republican on the committee in which Rove denied any involvement in the Siegelman case.

What will happen next is unclear. The next step usually would be a vote by the full House of Representatives, but the House is scheduled to adjourn for its August recess this week, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not confirmed that she will bring up the citation for a vote. Even if she did, and even if the full House voted to hold Rove in contempt, the next step would not be clear either. Once the full House approves a citation, the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., is supposed to bring it to a grand jury, but President Bush has already directed the U.S. attorney not to do so in a case in which executive privilege has been invoked.

The House is currently pursuing a civil suit that asks a federal judge to compel former White House counsel Harriet Miers to testify and to compel White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten to turn over certain documents. Both Miers and Bolten have already been cited for contempt by the full House. (For a more detailed look at the ins and outs of this, and the limited options the House has available to it, read the article I wrote on the subject last July here.)

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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