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US Congressional Panel Cites Former Bush Advisor for Contempt


The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has voted to recommend that President Bush's former political aide, Karl Rove, be cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to testify under subpoena. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill.

The vote was 20 to 14 along party lines to recommend to the full House that Rove be cited for contempt.

In early July, Rove failed to appear before the committee in response to a subpoena, to testify about allegations that he was involved in politicization of the Department of Justice, and that he worked behind-the-scenes to encourage prosecution of a former Democratic governor in Alabama.

Rove has denied involvement and offered to answer questions in writing. Democrat John Conyers said Rove's offers and defiance of the subpoena were unacceptable.

"That breach of our process presents a grave challenge to the authority of the Judiciary Committee. We must respond appropriately but fairly and make clear that our subpoenas are binding obligations, not optional invitations," he said.

"Not a single court decision supports the contention that a former White House aide can refuse to show up to a congressional hearing," said Democrat Linda Sanchez, who heads the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee.

Representative Lamar Smith re-stated Republican objections, asserting that no evidence has emerged to show Rove was involved in politicization efforts.

"With a disregard of the facts, Congress and some of the media have rushed to judgment. There is no credible evidence to support a contempt resolution against Mr. Rove," he said.

The contempt vote means the Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to determine whether the full chamber acts on the resolution.

But because lawmakers are scheduled to leave soon for a long August break, and Democrats have said they intend to complete legislative business by the end of September, the fate of the contempt action remains unclear.

The committee vote occurred during renewed congressional anger sparked by an internal Justice Department report saying former officials violated the law by allowing politics to influence hiring decisions.

In testimony to Congress last year, the former White House Liaison to the Justice Department, Monica Goodling, acknowledged that she knew she had crossed the line in allowing political factors to influence hiring for career Justice Department jobs.

Attorneys for Goodling issued a statement Wednesday pointing to what they called her exceptional candor and cooperation with Congress, and described as outrageous statements by Conyers and California Congresswoman Linda Sanchez suggesting that Goodling may have lied to Congress.

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