WASHINGTON - President Bush's former chief political adviser denied meddling in the Justice Department's prosecution of Alabama's ex-governor and said yesterday that the courts would have to resolve a congressional subpoena for his testimony.
"Congress, the House Judiciary Committee, wants to be able to call presidential aides on its whim up to testify," Karl Rove said. "It's going to be tied up in court and settled in court."
Last week, the committee ordered Rove to appear July 10. Lawmakers want to ask him about the White House's role in firing nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat.
Also under congressional subpoena are Bush's chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, and his former counsel, Harriet Miers. The White House is citing executive privilege, the doctrine intended to protect the confidentiality of presidential communications, in refusing to let them testify.
The fight over testimony for Bolten and Miers is in federal court and may not be settled until after Bush's term ends in January.
Siegelman was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for a 2006 bribery conviction. He was released in March when a federal appeals court ruled he raised "substantial questions of fact and law" in his appeal. Siegelman has accused GOP operatives of pushing prosecution. His claims were bolstered last year by Republican campaign volunteer Jill Simpson, who issued a sworn statement that she overheard conversations suggesting that Rove was involved in his case.
Yesterday, Rove brushed off suggestions that he meddled in Siegelman's case.
"I found out about Don Siegelman's investigation and indictment by reading about it in the newspaper," Rove said. "I heard about it, read about it, learned about it for the first time by reading about it in the newspaper."
Rove spoke on