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Hearing of the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee - Politicization of the Justice Department and Allegations of Selective Prosecution


Location: Washington, DC

Thank you, Madame Chair. I do have a brief opening statement -- if I can get this microphone to work. Well, we'll make the best we can with this microphone.

Madame Chair, although we find ourselves in front of an empty chair, it is not a sign of an administration refusing to cooperate with Congress.

Nearly a year and a half ago, the administration offered the committee a voluntary interview with Karl Rove, a senior adviser to the president, but the Democratic majority declined the offer. In most instances, the administration has negotiated successfully with Congress to resolve information requests. Mr. Rove offered to conduct a voluntary interview regarding the Siegelman matter. The Democratic majority refused. Mr. Rove offered to answer written questions. Again the Democratic majority refused.

These offers were without prejudice to the committee's ability to pursue further process if it wanted to. The offers should have been accepted, but time and again the Democratic majority has passed up the opportunity to gather information.

As to the issue before us, since the presidency of George Washington, presidents and Department of Justice officials from both parties have asserted that the president's closest advisers are immune from congressional testimony. For example, in the 1999 opinion for President Clinton, then-Attorney General Janet Reno stated that, quote, "An immediate adviser to the president is immune from compelled congressional testimony," end quote. Karl Rove served as assistant to the president, deputy chief of staff, and senior adviser to the president. He is the definition of an immediate adviser. An assertion of his immunity should be expected by anyone familiar with historical precedence.

Once already this Congress, the Democratic majority has tried to force the issue of compelled testimony by immediate advisers to the president. That effort led to contempt resolutions against Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten. Litigation is pending in the district court and is unlikely to be concluded prior to the adjournment of this Congress.

It's clear that today's hearing is a likely prelude to another recommendation of contempt to the House and the debate of another contempt citation on the floor. Just 17 days ago, a district court judge heard oral argument in the case of Committee versus Miers. The judge emphasized unmistakably that negotiation, not confrontation, is the preferred means of resolving situations like this. He stressed that both sides stand to lose if they do not work the matter out through negotiation. He made clear that if the parties cannot resolve the dispute on their own, then they have to negotiate pursuant to the court's instructions.

With these admonitions fresh in mind, Republicans hope the Democratic majority would finally accept Mr. Rove's offer without creating a partisan confrontation. But again, the Democratic majority has refused.

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, Congress's approval ratings have reached a historic low. Only 9 percent of Americans believe we're doing a good job. The American people have lost faith in the people's House. Today's hearing in no way addresses the most pressing issues before our nation.

Thank you, Madame Chair. And I'll yield back.

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