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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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AG: And, Scott Horton, the process that will take place now with John Conyers as the chair, saying finally Karl Rove will have to answer, the fact is he could continue not to answer, not to show up. Isn't that right?

SH: Well, I think it's unlikely at this point that he will not show up, because he would risk immediate contempt and being sent to prison. I think now we have a Justice Department that would actually enforce congressional contempt sanctions. But I think it's more likely that he's going to do what David Addington did when he was brought before the Judiciary Committee, which is selectively invoke a privilege with respect to specific questions and simply give --

AG: He replaced Scooter Libby as the --

SH: The chief of staff of Vice President Cheney -- and I think he will simply give non-responsive answers. But, you know, here, the invocation of privilege has been very problematic, because Karl Rove has been all over the country discussing these matters. He's done it on Fox News. He's done it on other cable network stations. That makes it very difficult for him to say, "I can't answer your question."

AG: And … how does President Obama, slightly going back and forth on this, saying he wants to move forward, not exactly clear what it means to look backward here -- on the issue of holding the Bush administration accountable, issues of detentions, torture, it sounds like he's drawing the line. On the issue of politicization of the Justice Department, do you have a sense of him in a different way? Same with Nancy Pelosi.

SH: I think that they believe that the Bush administration went way too far. But we should also stop and say, don't expect that the Obama White House is going to completely waive executive privilege. They won't do that. I'm sure they'll say Karl Rove is entitled to cite it with respect to his communications directly with President Bush. But all these peripheral matters, he's going to be forced to give answers. And the executive privilege -- he's also going to have to answer to the special prosecutor, Ms. Dannehy from Connecticut, on all these things, and she may very well wind up going after him. I think his big concern has been talking about this under oath, because that gives rise to new crimes if he makes false statements. And he's very much aware of that. He went through that before with the Valerie Plame matter. He really dodged a bullet in that case. He could very well have been prosecuted.

AG: Don Siegelman, will you be coming to Washington anytime soon from Alabama? And what would you say to President Obama now?

DS: Well, I would say that, one, I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, because I know that we have a competent and capable president. We have an African American as president, and George W. Bush is back in Texas.

I would say that with regard to his wanting to look forward rather than backward, I think that's important that he continue to focus on those -- the issues that are important to the future of this country, but part of that is ensuring that our democracy is restored and that the people of this country have faith and trust that the Department of Justice will not be used as a political weapon in the future. And … unless we find the full truth about what went on in the Department of Justice, and unless we hold those people accountable and responsible for their behavior, then these issues are likely to become part of our political culture and happen again in the future.