Karl Rove ignored a subpoena to appear this morning before a House panel that is investigating allegations that partisan considerations entered into hirings and firings at the Justice Department.
The House Judiciary Committee had invited President Bush’s former political adviser to testify about a broad range of scandals. In response, his attorney sent lawmakers a letter outlining the grounds for his refusal to appear on Capitol Hill.
“As I have indicated to you in each of my letters, Mr. Rove does not assert any personal privileges in response to the subpoena,” Robert Luskin writes in a letter posted on the committee’s website. “However, as a former Senior Advisor to the President of the United States, he remains obligated to assert privileges held by the President … Accordingly, Mr. Rove will respectfully decline to appear before the Subcommittee on July 10 on the grounds that Executive Privilege confers upon him immunity from process in response to a subpoena directed at this subject.”
A few minutes ago, the Associated Press reported that Rep. Linda Sanchez, the California Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, ruled that Rove’s claim was invalid.
It’s amazing to me that the Republicans have seized the perception of being the pro-American party. They love to wrap themselves up in the flag, complain that other people are insufficiently patriotic, and then their leaders will ignore the laws (even the constitution) of the country. It’s like a boss who constantly complains about employee theft, but then embezzles money.
Even if we ignore the current situation, their actions are setting a bad precedent for future presidents. In 20 or 50 years from now, if a bad president comes to power, he can use the Bush administration’s actions to confer legitimacy to whatever he wants to do. It’s hard not to think that all of these expansions of executive power isn’t degrading this country, and moving it irrevocably away from the checks and balances which were so important to the founding fathers. If the Republicans want to tear up the constitution and tell us that the founding fathers had it all wrong, then let them just come out and say it. Instead, under the guise of protecting the country and wrapped in patriotism, they slowly seize more and more power for themselves.
I remember reading an article a long time ago about a Middle Eastern man who moved to the US during the Nixon administration. In many places around the world, leaders are above the law, so he was amazed that the United States was a country where even the leaders were under the rule of law. It gave him a profound respect for this country. That distinction is dying under the weight of executive privilege, presidential pardons, signing statements, secret laws to allow for illegal wiretapping, suspension of habeas corpus, etc. For thousands of years, mankind has struggled to free itself from the tyranny and whim of its leaders. The United States was largely founded on a rebellion against abusive power of the English monarchy, and it’s constitution reflects that – by carefully limiting government power to prevent abuse. They were familiar with what it was like to be the underdog. Unfortunately, present-leaders have no experience in being the underdog, and insufficient respect for those issues. In the war between the powerful (the rich and the government) and the the weak (the people), today’s leaders see things only from their own position, and seek to expand their power at the expense of the common people. They are slowly working to restore the
monarchy’s president’s power. The Bush administration is a step backwards: an expansion of government power at the expense of the people, and paving the way for future expansion of presidential power.
Speaking of which, here’s a recent video involving John Yoo (who assisted the Attorney General as legal advisor to President Bush and all the executive branch agencies), where he is unable to answer the simple question: what are the limits to executive power? Yoo’s answer seems to be that there are no limits, but he trusts the president to act with sufficient restraint.