WASHINGTON – Former White House aide Karl Rove faced questions Friday from a special prosecutor weighing whether to bring criminal charges against Bush administration officials for the politically charged firing of U.S. attorneys.
Rove met with prosecutor Nora Dannehy at the office of his lawyer, Robert Luskin. Rove did not speak to reporters as he entered the downtown Washington law office and neither did investigators who arrived about a half hour later.
Rove has said he will cooperate with the investigation, which is being conducted to determine whether Bush administration officials or congressional Republicans should face criminal charges in the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.
Rove and other Republican officials refused to be interviewed in an earlier Justice Department inquiry, which concluded that despite Bush administration denials, political considerations played a part in the firings of as many as four prosecutors.
U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president, but cannot be fired for improper reasons. Bush administration officials at first claimed the attorneys were let go because of poor performance.
The internal Justice Department investigation recommended a criminal inquiry, saying the lack of cooperation by Rove and other senior administration officials left gaps in their findings that should be investigated further. Then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey responded by naming Dannehy, the acting U.S. attorney in Connecticut, as special prosecutor in September.
Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers also have agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee under oath about the firings in closed depositions. As president, Bush had fought attempts to force them to testify.
In July, U.S. District Judge John Bates rejected Bush’s contention that senior White House advisers were immune from the committee’s subpoenas, siding with Congress’ power to investigate the executive branch. The Bush administration had appealed the decision. The agreement for Rove and Miers to testify ended the lawsuit.
Associated Press writer Pete Yost contributed to this report.