Leahy says Rove resignation won’t affect Committee work

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says the decision by White House strategist Karl Rove to step down at the end of this month won’t affect the work of the Judiciary Committee.

Leahy says he’ll ask the full Senate to hold Rove in contempt of Congress if Rove fails to respond to a recent subpoena over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary committee, has set a deadline of next week for Rove to respond to the subpoena. The panel wants Rove to testify about his role in the firing of 9 U.S. Attorneys in December.

Several of the federal prosecutors have indicated to the committee that they believe they were dismissed for political reasons.

Rove has refused to testify claiming the subpoenas violate the legal principle of Executive Privilege.

Leahy says he’s pursing this case because he doesn’t believe this claim has any merit.

(Leahy) "They use a really bogus claim of Executive Privilege – it doesn’t work. We’ve had sworn testimony now from a number of people that they did not discuss this matter with the President. If that’s the case, then there’s no Executive Privilege."

(Kinzel) Leahy says Rove’s resignation doesn’t change the legal fight between Congress and the White House.

(Leahy) "He has not answered our subpoenas in the Judiciary Committee. He’s still going to be subject to the subpoenas and we will continue to push for it. We just want to find out. Why did they manipulate? Why did they change prosecutors who were involved in very sensitive prosecutions? Why did they move them around?"

(Kinzel) Leahy says it’s likely that he’ll ask the full Senate to hold Rove in contempt of Congress if the White House senior advisor doesn’t agree to testify in front of the Judiciary committee next month.

(Leahy) "I want to get to the bottom of it. I’m not out to play gotcha. I just want to make sure that no president and the next one especially, will never have the idea that they can manipulate law enforcement the way this White House has."

(Kinzel) Leahy admits that it’s likely that a number of Senate Republicans will filibuster any Contempt Motion against Rove. He believes this approach will be more successful in the House because that chamber operates under a different set of procedural rules.

For VPR news I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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