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Obama Tested on Executive Privilege as Karl Rove is Subpoenaed (Again) Over Shady Dealings at DOJ

Former AL Gov. Don Siegelman: "This is far more important than my case or Karl Rove. This is about restoring justice and preserving our democracy."

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SH: Well, in fact, this was being raised by the Republicans consistently and all over the country. They would talk about voter fraud, and they would bring prosecutions and commence criminal investigations. And as, in fact, one senior Republican operative explained, this was a voter suppression operation. By having this in newspapers and having it discussed, they believed they could reliably suppress Democratic turnout by two to three percent, which in marginal cases would produce a Republican win. It was fully understood that way. And they got cooperation from a large number of U.S. attorneys, including Mr. Iglesias. He appointed a task force. He pursued it. And after fully investigating it, he concluded there's no there there; there really isn't any voter fraud.

AG: We're about to go to former governor Don Siegelman, but lay it out in brief. This was a case that you championed for a long time while Governor Siegelman was in jail.

SH: It's a very complex case, but in the bottom line it's also like Oakland: "There's no there there." There were a great number of charges brought of petty things, and they were all the sorts of charges that historically have not been brought against political figures. The key thing in the center of it is an accusation that money was paid to a campaign fund of his by an individual who was appointed to public office. And if that's a crime, then, of course, Mr. Rove and President Bush were guilty of it big time, since they had 146 major campaign donors appointed to public office.

But in the parameters of this case, all around it, we find the fingerprints of Karl Rove at every turn. He's involved. He has close relations with both of the U.S. attorneys who were involved. One of his close business confederates is in fact the husband of the U.S. attorney who brought this case. In the end, he was also involved pushing the campaign of Don Siegelman's opponent for the governorship in Alabama. It seems quite clear that this prosecution was brought as a political weapon to take out a successful Democratic candidate for a state house that Karl Rove coveted.

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AG: Scott Horton is in the studio with us, still here in snowy New York in our firehouse studio. It's snowing all along the East Coast. And joining us from Birmingham, Alabama is Don Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama.

Don Siegelman, welcome to Democracy Now! once again. We saw you at the Democratic convention in Denver. Your response to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee issuing a subpoena for Karl Rove?

Don Siegelman: Well, my spirits are lifted, but we've seen this once before, so it's not a question of John Conyers's commitment. We know he is committed to seeking the truth. I think it's a question of how intense the people of this country feel about reaching the truth and whether we're going to get behind John Conyers and give him the support he needs by calling, writing and faxing our members of Congress and telling them that we want justice done, which starts with bringing Karl Rove before the Judiciary Committee. And he can either plead the Fifth or tell the truth or lie, but he needs to be before that committee.

AG: What do you want to hear from Karl Rove? What do you believe his involvement was in your prosecution?

DS: Well, I was brought to trial one month before the Democratic primary by Karl Rove's best friend's wife, who was the U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Alabama, on charges that the New York Times said have never been a crime in America. Grant Woods, who's the Republican -- was the Republican attorney general from Arizona, said that they couldn't beat Siegelman fair and square, so they targeted him with this prosecution. We have sworn testimony from a Republican political operative, Jill Simpson, who said that she was on a conversation with my prosecutor's husband, who said that he had talked to Karl Rove, and Rove had spoken to the Department of Justice, and everything was wired in for them to -- for the Department of Justice to pursue me.