Former Bush deputy chief of staff Karl Rove ignored his third congressional subpoena today claiming he is a recipient of former President George Bushâ€™s plenary power to confer absolute immunity in perpetuity. While this mystical power is not to be found in the constitution or any statutory law book. To the growing dismay of most liberals and every civil libertarian, current President Barack Obamaâ€™s lawyers seem to be sending signals they might like the concept of an imperial Presidency.
For Americans who live in and work in the everyday world, ignoring a subpoena is a criminal offense punishable by fine and imprisonment. Say what you will about Mr. Rove but it is unlikely he would risk going to jail by thrice defying the Congress of the United States were he not absolutely confident he knew the consequences ahead of time. The peoples elected representatives would primarily like to discuss with Mr. Rove his role if any in the alleged political firings of U.S. attorneys and the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman convicted of corruption in 2006 but out on bond after an appeals court discovered the conduct of federal prosecutors raised such substantial questions a new trial or outright dismissal is likely.
While Roveâ€™s lawyers continue to negotiate with congress in an attempt to establish conditions under which he might agree to obey the law of the land, the Obama White house is hoping push will not come to shove and require they find themselves in the awkward position of having to choose between supporting Mr. Roveâ€™s claim of perpetual executive immunity or acknowledging even a President and his people are not above the law, a concept presidential candidates generally have no problem supporting, until they find themselves in the oval office. Thirty plus days into office, Barack Obama scores high marks overall, But most liberals and all civil libertarians are perplexed over a former constitutional law professorâ€™s hesitancy to offer an unambiguous expression of his administrations degree of commitment to the rule of law.
Karl Rove apparently hopes the administration will choose power over principle, itâ€™s a political gambit that costs him nothing and is already hurting the administration, if the courts or congress under threat of contempt citation compel him to testify he can always exercise his fifth amendment rights, If the President shields him it strengthens the republican party by dampening enthusiasm amongst the base which could be critical in turn out for some 2010 midterm seats.
That’s my view, yours may be different