Last week, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former White House aide Karl Rove to determine his knowledge and role in the decision to prosecute former Democratic governor of Alabama Don Siegelman.
ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopolous asked Rove if he was directly or indirectly involved in Siegelman’s prosecution. Having trouble coming up with a coherent explanation, Rove simply offered this legalistic non-denial denial. “I learned about Don Siegelman’s prosecution by reading about it in the newspaper,” Rove said.
When Stephanopolous continued to press Rove about his involvement in the case, Rove stuttered and stammered, then responded by again saying he learned about it in the newspaper. Stephanopolous astutely noted, “That’s not a denial”:
STEPHANOPOLOUS: But to be clear, you did not contact the Justice Department about this case?
ROVE: I read about — I’m going to simply say what I’ve said before which is, I found out about Don Siegelman’s investigation and indictment by reading about it in the newspaper.
STEPHANOPOLOUS: But that’s not a denial.
ROVE: Uh. I’ve — I’ve — I’ve — uh — you know, I read about it. I heard about it, read about it, learned about it for the first time by reading about it in the newspaper.
Trying to defend himself, Rove said “everyone who was supposedly on that telephone call” — which points to Rove’s involvement in the case — says it “never took place.” But when Stephanopolous pointed out that there is a cell phone record of the call, Rove had nowhere to go.
Unfortunately for Rove, dealing with the House Judiciary Committee isn’t going to be as easy as ducking questions on a Sunday talk show. As committee chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said recently, “We’re closing in on Rove. Someone’s got to kick his ass.”