House Judiciary Committee Cites Karl Rove for Contempt

The House Judiciary Committee just voted along strict party lines, 20-14, to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress for his failure to appear in response to the duly authorized subpoenas seeking his testimony in the matter of the US Attorney firings and the allegations of his interference in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

The resolution now goes to the full House, where a straight majority vote will be necessary for formally and officially locking in the contempt citation.

It's at that stage that the decision of which procedure to utilize -- statutory contempt which gets referred for prosecution to the US Attorney, or inherent contempt which is prosecuted by the House itself in a trial before the body -- is made.

The House's earlier contempt citations against Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers were referred under the statutory contempt procedure to the US Attorney who, at the instruction of the White House and the Department of Justice, declined to prosecute the cases. An ironic situation, given that the contempt citations arose in the context of an investigation into whether or not the DOJ and the White House were improperly directing prosecutorial decisions of the US Attorneys.

The House Judiciary Committee subsequently filed suit in federal court, seeking an order compelling the US Attorney to proceed with the prosecution, and somehow -- magically! -- the case was assigned to former Whitewater Deputy Independent Counsel John D. Bates, the federal judge who dismissed the Plame lawsuit, dismissed the Cheney Energy Task Force lawsuit, upheld the validity of Bush's signature on an a bill not properly passed in the same form by both houses of Congress, and dismissed the DNC's lawsuit seeking to force the FEC to rule on John McCain's attempt to withdraw from his presidential campaign's public financing commitments.

I don't know about you, but I'm not really feeling the fear with respect to the statutory contempt thing.

One other possibility: Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) testified in last Friday's non-impeachment hearing before the Judiciary Committee regarding his legislation that would grant Congress the authority to petition the courts to appoint a special prosecutor in cases where the DOJ refused to take up referrals of contempt of Congress. That bill, H.R. 6508, now sits before the Judiciary Committee awaiting action, albeit with powerful cosponsors including Chairman Conyers, and subcommittee chairs Linda Sanchez and Jerry Nadler.

Probably time to get moving on that.

In the meantime, how about signing the Send Karl Rove to Jail petition?

The petition made a bit of a splash yesterday:

Bush administration critics hand-delivered a petition to a Democratic lawmaker Tuesday containing more than 127,000 signatures calling for former White House adviser Karl Rove to be held in contempt of Congress and jailed.

A coalition of advocacy groups dropped off three boxes of signed petitions at the office of Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who heads a House Judiciary subcommittee that took up the matter this month. The full committee is scheduled to take up the contempt charges Wednesday.

The coalition includes advocacy groups such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as well as liberal organizations such as Brave New Films, Campaign for America's Future and The Nation magazine.

Now that the decision goes to the full House as to what procedure to adopt, perhaps those signatures and more should also be delivered to the Democratic Leadership who will guide that decision. Why not add your voice to that growing chorus?