Rove Subpoena

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President Bush thinks -- correctly, in my view -- that it is his job as President to defend the office of the President from any encroachments by the Legislature. The President does not have to honor a subpoena for Rove, so he will not do so. Rove will only testify if it is Bush's choice that Rove testify, so any demand by Congress will be rejected.

That is, Congress has to ask nicely and say please, and there have to be negotiations, and the President has to at the very least get the appearance that he is the one making the choice for Rove to testify (and perhaps get something else in return, too).

This is not exceptional, and everyone on the Hill who has been around knows what's going on.

What does make this somewhat exceptional is that there seems to be less of a way out than usual. When Bush resisted having Rice testify in public, under oath, before the 9/11 Commission, in the end Bush allowed it, because he had nothing really to lose, and everything to gain. He had to make a good show to defend Executive authority. But here, Bush has little if anything to gain by having Rove testify as Congress wants, and (if there was wrongdoing, or if Congress can twist what did happen to create the appearance of such) perhaps a lot to lose.

Congress is on a fishing expedition (literally: they have no actual evidence of any wrongdoing), and they similarly would take a huge risk by hauling Rove in there and not getting it on the record, not getting it under oath, and so on, because if anything is said, they won't be able to really use it, so why bother wasting all that political capital?

So while this story is the same as one we've seen many times over the years, it's still tough to see a way out. But I expect that we will see Bush soften some of his terms (maybe allow a transcript?) and Congress will accept it, because Congress really has no leverage other than trying to use the media to beat up Bush, and they will take what they can get in the end.

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on March 21, 2007 8:17 PM.

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