Verdict: Frog-Marching Rove

[media id=5317] [media id=5318] (h/t Heather) Bill W. already posted about Conyers' statement that he is committed to getting Rove to testify in th

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Bill W. already posted about Conyers' statement that he is committed to getting Rove to testify in the Don Siegelman case, even if it means having him arrested. However, this segment from MSNBC's Verdict, where Catherine Crier explains to host Dan Abrams the process and the seriousness of an Inherent Contempt of Congress charge is was too good not to use, so I asked Heather to make the video for me. Besides, it's small and petty of me, but I don't think you can hear "haul Karl Rove to jail" too many times.

Crier: Well here's the way this plays out. If the full House issues the contempt citation then it's supposed to go to the Department of Justice and they're supposed to take it to a Grand Jury. They're supposed to enforce it. Well they've already, the Bush administration says no, uh, there's Executive authority, we're saying privilege. They're not going to enforce it. You might then try the Federal courts. The Federal courts are liable to say it's a political question. But the Constitution gives the Congress the inherent power to issue contempt and then to prosecute on this.

Abrams: On their own.

Crier: They can send the Sergeant at Arms out into the countryside, arrest, haul somebody in and in days gone by used to literally hold them in the basement of Congress in an impromptu jail and then they could have a trial. That is still their power today.

Full transcript (courtesy of Heather) below the fold.

Abrams: We have got breaking news tonight. The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has threatened to have Karl Rove arrested. At issue, whether Rove will testify about the prosecution of AL former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. What role if any did Rove play in bringing down the popular Democrat? Thus far Rove has refused to testify and the committee has given him another week or they say they'll subpoena him. If he still refuses, Politico.com reporting that John Conyers, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee said today "We'll do what any self-respecting committee would do. We'd hold him in contempt. Either that or go and have him arrested."


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"We're closing in on Rove." Conyers said.

Catherine, the Congress has to be getting very serious about this.

Crier: It's about time.

Abrams: Tell me why.

Crier: I'm serious because we've got whether it was the Hariet Miers, there've been several individuals if you go back throughout this Bush administration that haven't responded. Now they've got Karl Rove in the Siegelman affair and he has refused repeated offers for compromise to give him an opportunity to testify, and it's finally to the point where you say either this third branch has power or it has been completely emasculated.

Abrams: Because up to now what they've been saying is we'd like you to come in voluntarily uh and testify. So far he's been saying he will answer questions in writing, will come in and talk but there can't be a transcript, not under oath, etc., and now it sounds like Congress is getting a little tired of it. This is Congressman Wexler, also a member of this committee on this program last night.

Wexler: And if he refuses to honor the subpoena then the full House of Representatives must hold Mr. Rove in contempt of Congress and then we must ask that Attorney General to enforce the contempt of Congress subpoena or citation.

Abrams: But inherent contempt. What does that mean?

Crier: Well here's the way this plays out. If the full House issues the contempt citation then it's supposed to go to the Department of Justice and they're supposed to take it to a Grand Jury. They're supposed to enforce it. Well they've already, the Bush administration says no, uh, there's Executive authority, we're saying privilege. They're not going to enforce it. You might then try the Federal courts. The Federal courts are liable to say it's a political question. But the Constitution gives the Congress the inherent power to issue contempt and then to prosecute on this.

Abrams: On their own.

Crier: They can send the Sergeant at Arms out into the countryside, arrest, haul somebody in and in days gone by used to literally hold them in the basement of Congress in an impromptu jail and then they could have a trial. That is still their power today.

Abrams: Unlikely to happen here but it does sound like they're getting ready to move forward with something here.

Crier: Well unlikely to happen in the sense that they might not jail them in the basement any longer, but at this point and time if you look at, if the DOJ has already basically said we're not going to do what we're supposed to do, they must take it to a Grand Jury. Says no, Executive privilege, we're not going to act. The courts probably won't and it will be, if they, if the full Congress asserts, if the full House votes, then they will have to try this case themselves, which means issue the arrest warrant and try this.

Abrams: Again final question. Executive privilege, Karl Rove has said that he didn't talk to anyone in the White House about it so what's the potential Executive privilege?

Crier: Well he's making the claim and that assertion I don't think anywhere. It might be something the Federal court will go with but right now the Department of Justice has given no indication that they will, that they will go out and serve those subpoenas issued by Conyers.

Abrams: Does it surprise you Conyers is using language like arrested?

Crier: At this point..no. I'm a big rule of law, this has nothing to do with politics for me, it is respecting the rule of law, regardless of Democrat or Republican, and at this point in time if they don't show back bone then there are not three branches of government in this country.

Abrams: And we should say again the subpoena has not been issued yet so we shall see what happens if and when uh the subpoena is issued...uhmmm and I'll continue to follow this case.

About Nicole Belle

Nicole Belle's picture
Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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