(AFP) – Mar 4, 2009
WASHINGTON (AFP) — A former top aide to George W. Bush, Karl Rove, is to testify in Congress as part of a probe into the controversial firings of federal prosecutors, after previously failing to appear, Congressional sources said Wednesday.
Rove, called to testify in an investigation into the 2006 firings of nine federal prosecutors that some saw as politically motivated, failed to show at a House of Representatives hearing in July 2008.
But under an agreement between Bush administration officials and Representative John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rove and former Bush legal advisor Harriet Miers are now to appear before the panel, the committee said in a statement.
The committee is to also examine Bush-era documents as part of their exploration of the controversy, which led to the resignation of then-attorney general Alberto Gonzales.
When Rove and Miers' snubbed congressional subpoenas, US courts were examining White House claims to "executive privilege" in keeping its officials from testifying on different matters.
A federal court in Washington twice ruled in July and August that presidential aides were not allowed complete immunity from congressional subpoenas, after they refused to testify for two years before lawmakers.
The White House appealed to a federal appeals court in the capital, but Wednesday's agreement should now put the case to rest.
"The agreement for Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to testify upholds a fundamental principle: no one is above the law and Congressional subpoenas must be complied with," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy said that the agreement "will help to finally uncover the truth about the firings of US Attorneys and the Bush White House cover-up designed to shield from public view the inappropriate and illegal actions of the last administration."
A Justice Department report in September detailed "substantial evidence" that partisan politics played a key role in the 2006 "unprecedented removal" of nine federal prosecutors.
Rove, who steered Bush's career from the days before he was governor of Texas to the White House, left the president's team in 2007 and is now a prolific political pundit.
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