like a few before him, karl rove’s attorneys
over at the texas power-firm, patton boggs, wrote
house judiciary committee chairman john conyers to
say that mr. rove would not comply with a lawfully-
issued subpoena — that he would not even appear.
this is the route taken by former white house counsel
harriet miers — but the opposite of the route taken
by dick cheney’s favorite office lawyer, david addington.
[addington, you’ll recall, appeared, testified — and in
the process, removed all doubt about whether
these folks see themselves as (faux-)dieties.
erm. . . nice work, there, dave!]
it seems that rove’s lawyers, like miers‘, believe
george bush is more akin to a king — and thus, if
he simply waves his sceptor — all duly-authorized
subpoenas, and incidents of american law may be
immediately vanished into thin air. “but that’s not
how it works, over here, in america, mr. rove. . .”
here, in america, one obeys the law — and if the executive
branch disagrees with the application, or interpretation of
that law, it must file suit to enjoin that law. this is exactly
how it played out in the 1970s — when nixon tried to prevent
AT&T from turning over evidence — to congress. and, then, when
AT&T correctly informed the world it intended to comply with
its lawful obligations — nixon, again correctly, brought a
suit to enjoin AT&T’s compliance with the law — that
duly-issued congressional subpoena. these are facts are on
all fours with the rove case — except that rove’s patton
boggs lawyer — robert luskin — is threatening to defy
the lawful authority of congress. he well knows that the
appropriate way to challenge such authority is to ask the
courts to intervene — by way of a lawsuit. it is not our
way to simply ignore validly-issued orders of a body vested
with unquestionable jurisdiction in this matter — a sub-
committee of the judiciary committee of united
states house of representatives. “don’t get it twisted, luskin.”
so, once again, these disputes boil down to whether we, as a
people, are going to accept cheney and bush’s view that
they — and they, alone — are above the law applicable
to “mere mortals” — the rest of us. it is one thing to
say that mr. bush and mr. cheney have plenary authority
to conduct their so-called “war on terror” in iraq,
and afganistan, but it is entirely another to suggest that
their offices, and their former advisors — many now private
citizens — like karl rove — are above the law.
we are a nation of laws — not men. so prepare
to be held in contempt — like harriet miers, mr.
rove, if you choose to violate the law of our land.
here is the relevant portion of chairman conyers’
july 3, 2008 letter of response — citing AT&T [click
the image to enlarge it]:
and, here is the chairman’s statement:
July 3, 2008
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and subcommittee Chairwoman Linda Sánchez (D-CA) responded today to Karl Rove attorney [and pPatton Boggs senior partner] Robert Luskin’s letter advising the committee that Rove would not appear before the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, in violation of the committee’s subpoena. In his letter, received yesterday, Luskin reiterated his offer to make Rove available for an off-the-record interview, without an oath, about the Siegelman matter only, although the committee has made clear the need to explore with Rove related issues concerning the politicization of the Justice Department such as the US Attorney firings at any hearing or interview.
“We want to make clear that the subcommittee will convene as scheduled and expects Mr. Rove to appear, and that a refusal to appear in violation of the subpoena could subject Mr. Rove to contempt proceedings, including statutory contempt under federal law and proceedings under the inherent contempt authority of the House of Representatives. . . .”
[earlier, from chairman conyers, when harriet miers failed to appear:]
. . .Federal law makes it very clear that recipients of a congressional subpoena must appear -– regardless of whether or not they intend to assert privilege once they arrive. 2 U.S.C. § 192 provides: “Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress . . . willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question . . . shall be guilty of a misdemeanor . . . .” 2 U.S.C. § 194 further states that a witness may be held in contempt and prosecuted for three distinct acts: 1) failing “to appear to testify” in response to a subpoena; 2) failing to produce documents pursuant to the subpoena; and 3) failing to answer questions pursuant to the subpoena.
The D.C. Circuit has ruled that “[a] reasonable interpretation of the statute . . . is that a witness is in default if he fails not only to appear but fails to attend, following appearance, so long as the committee requires his attendance.” Townsend v. United States, 95 F.2d 352, 357 (D.C. Cir. 1938). The Second Circuit has similarly stated: “The statute, 2 U.S.C.A. § 192, embraces two offenses. . . . The first consists of the willfull default of one who has been summoned as a witness. This offense, obviously, may be committed by willfully refraining, without adequate excuse, from appearing in response to a lawful summons and it may also be committed by appearing and then willfully terminating attendance before being excused.” United States v. Josephson, 165 F.2d 82, 85 (2d Cir. 1947) (citing Townsend, 95 F.2d 352). See also United States v. Groves, 18 F.Supp. 3 (W.D. Penn. 1937); United States v. Hintz, 193 F.Supp. 325 (N.D. Ill. 1961). . . .
As the [above] rulings explain, as a private party, Ms. Miers could not legally be compelled by the White House to disregard the subpoena, but instead made her own decision to disregard it and to cite Mr. Fielding’s letter. [and, that course of conduct was unlawful.]