On CNN’s The Situation Room, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) claimed that Karl Rove did not have much to do with the Bush administration’s partisan purge of eight U.S. attorneys.
Martinez — who also serves as the Republican National Committee Chairman — rejected demands by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that Rove appear before the Senate to discuss his role in the attorney purge. “Well, I can see how Harriet Miers would be an appropriate witness. I’m not so sure if Karl Rove has much to do with this,” he said. Watch it:
Just last month, a top Justice Department official told Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a letter that the “Department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint [Rove ally Tim] Griffin” as U.S. Attorney in Arkansas. But recent reports have provided evidence that “all roads lead to Rove”:
— “[T]he idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys was raised by White House adviser Karl Rove in early January 2005, indicating Rove was more involved in the plan than previously acknowledged by the White House.”
— “White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Rove relayed complaints from Republican officials and others to the Justice Department and the White House counsel’s office.”
— In recently-released emails, former Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson writes, “I know that getting [Griffin] appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, et cetera.”
— When a GOP chairman in New Mexico complained about a U.S. Attorney, Rove reportedly told him, “He’s gone.”
— News reports indicate that Rove’s office may have been involved in problems involving the U.S. Attorney from Washington state, John McKay.
BLITZER: In order to get the facts out, should top current and former White House officials come before the Congress and testify under oath, specifically Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, the former White House legal counsel?
MARTINEZ: Well, I can see how Harriet Miers would be an appropriate witness. I’m not so sure if Karl Rove has much to do with this. That is, again, injecting politics into it. But I think all of those that are relevant to the investigation should certainly come and testify before the Congress. The Congress has an important oversight responsibility. And I’m not suggesting that should be abdicated. I’m just saying let’s get the facts out first.
BLITZER: But his name does come up in a lot of these e-mails that the White House released. Karl Rove wants this. He is happy about that. He won’t be happy if you do this. It seems like he had a direct role in some of these decisions.
MARTINEZ: Well, White House counsel was Harriet Miers, and I think these contacts were directed to the White House counsel. And while Rove may an opinion, he is deputy chief of staff, if appropriate, he probably should testify as well. I’m not trying to remove him from the possibility of testimony, I’m just saying let’s make sure that it is directed at getting out the facts and investigating and not just a political witch hunt.