Greta Van Susteren and Karl Rove
Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
No thinking American ever would take anything Karl Rove says as the truth. But the former Bush White House strategist issued a string of lies on Fox News the other night that was prodigious, even by his standards.
Greta Van Susteren initiated an interview that was supposed to be about the tax-exempt status of certain right-leaning PACs. For reasons that seemed to escape even Van Susteren, Rove took the question and turned it into a diatribe about the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Much of Rove's vitriol was directed at Rainsville lawyer Jill Simpson, a former GOP operative who told Congress she was involved in a conference call about a plan to bring bogus charges against Siegelman, apparently with Rove's approval.
Van Susteren either was too timid or too stunned to point out to her audience that almost everything Rove said about Simpson, and her role in the Siegelman, case was false. (See the interview at the end of this post.) Andrew Kreig, of the D.C.-based Justice-Integrity Project, spells it out in a piece titled "Rove Repeatedly Lies On Fox News About Siegelman Case."
Here are a few whoppers from Rove's rant:
* He claimed Robert Bauer, counsel to President Barack Obama, represented Simpson in her appearance before Congress; it's a matter of public record that Bauer did not represent Simpson.
* He claimed Simpson's testimony was not under oath; it's a matter of public record that Simpson, in fact, did testify under oath.
* He claimed that Simpson has "disappeared"; in fact, Simpson has continued to practice law in Rainsville, and she currently is in Arizona training in civil disobedience.
Why would Rove get off on a Siegelman/Simpson tangent, one filled with misstatements. Kreig provides some important backdrop:
Rove's untruthfulness . . . seems far from irrational. He could land in trouble if subjected for the first time to a thorough investigation. His peace of mind on June 20, the day of his Fox interview, could not have been helped by a protest march that day by attendees of the annual Campaign For America's Future convention. They marched to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offices to demand that federal authorities arrest Rove. The protest was symbolic, with no charges specified.
In a similar vein, Rove critics active in the blogosphere have been claiming over the past week that one of Rove's colleagues is an ex-con who might be outed soon in a sex scandal. This is part of the ongoing back-and-forth war of nerves that political activists wage continually against one another, with lawsuits and claims of outrage by each side. Among the latter are GOP members of Congress seeking Justice Department prosecutions of liberal opponents.
In this context, it made sense for Rove to deflect attacks by claiming to Fox listeners that he has been cleared from any suspicions by previous investigations and that critics are partisans allied unfairly against him.
One of Rove's colleagues is an ex-con who might be outed soon in a sex scandal? That information certainly jumps off the screen at you. But this question is of more immediate concern: Why has the Obama White House refused to endorse an investigation of apparent criminality in the George W. Bush administration, involving Rove and others? Kreig addresses several possible answers:
One is that Rove, with a long career of high-level contacts that include work for former CIA Director George H.W. Bush, might think he knows enough about one or more leaders in the Obama administration as to be protected against any unwanted disruption of his privacy.
Under that scenario, Obama officials would have the incentive to keep coddling Rove and avoid any pre-election unpleasantness this year, as always, especially if there are national security factors far more important than the fate of prosecutorial abuse victims such as Siegelman and his family.
That possibility of national security intrigue is not far-fetched given the unusual number of military-related factors that arose in the case. The anti-Siegelman prosecution team was headquartered at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, for example, with the lead prosecutor a colonel in the Air Force Reserve. The key interrogations of suspects were at the base, adding to a fear factor.
Is Karl Rove untouchable because he has dirt on higher ups in the Obama administration? That could be, but Kreig points out that it's also possible for Rove's rant to backfire on him. Sam Stein, of Huffington Post, reports that Bob Bauer fired off a letter demanding that Rove retract his false statements in the Van Susteren interview. In attacking Bauer, the president's counsel, is it possible that Rove poked the wrong bear with a stick, especially in an election year? Writes Kreig:
In sum, it's no secret that those running government both federally and locally like to keep secrets from the public. But one thing is for sure: Rove was lying on Fox News last week about whether Simpson had been working with Bauer. Oddly enough, however, Rove's nationally televised screed might prompt Bauer to urge his client pay attention, at long last, to one of the greatest scandals in recent American history.