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Rove should be held in contempt of Congress

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Last night, I appeared on MSNBC's Verdict with Dan Abrams to discuss Karl Rove's outrageous refusal to appear before Congress regarding serious allegations that he used the US Justice Department to take down a prominent Democratic politician. It is alleged that Mr. Rove personally instigated the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegleman. The case has been criticized by legal experts, and 52 former state attorney generals – both Republicans and Democrats – have criticized the case and called for an investigation. (You may view the clip here.)

If Rove refuses to testify voluntarily and ignores the subpoenas that will certainly be issued, he should be held in Inherent Contempt of the House of Representatives.

No American is above the law. None of us should be able to ignore Congress without consequence.
If Mr. Rove ignores a subpoena from the Judiciary Committee, then the House of Representatives should pass an Inherent Contempt citation and exercise our right to send the House Sergeant-of-Arms to gather Mr. Rove and bring him before Congress to testify.

I do not advocate this option lightly, but the reality is that Congress has few options left against an Administration that totally refuses to submit to any type of reasonable Congressional oversight. Congress has both the right and obligation to investigate these matters. Never before has an Executive so upset the checks and balances inherent in our Constitution. If we back off or delay, we effectively forfeit the power of Congress to investigate the Executive branch.

Rove is not the first White House official to ignore Congress. We have seen a pattern of refusals based on laughable claims of executive privilege. First, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers ignored subpoenas on the investigation into the firing of US Attorney Generals for partisan political motives.

Their refusal to testify was unprecedented: never before have executive officials totally refused to even show up before Congress. Bolten and Miers are the highest officials ever held in contempt of Congress. Unfortunately, Attorney General Mukasey – in a dereliction of duty – has refused to enforce the contempt decree and now Congress is suing them in District Court to demand compliance. Then, the Vice President's Chief of Staff, David Addington, refused to testify on the investigation into the Bush Administration's ordering of torture. Now, Rove continues this executive arrogance by also refusing to testify.

Enough is enough. We have a Constitutional obligation to provide accountability to a White House that is trying usurp the constitutional powers of Congress.
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These are the very reasons why I have been pushing for impeachment hearings for Vice President Cheney. The Bush Administration has been running roughshod over the Constitution for eight long years. We should not allow the promise of a positive election be used as an excuse to ignore our duty to investigate crimes that weaken the very fabric of our Democracy.

I thank you again for your commitment to the causes that we hold so dear.

With warm regards,

Congressman Robert Wexler

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Robert Wexler is a Democratic congressman representing South Florida's 19th district, serving his sixth term in the House of Representatives. He has earned a reputation as a straight-forward and articulate legislator who energetically advocates for his constituents. Wexler has been named (more...)
 

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