Rep. John Conyers wrote a letter to Bush’s closest aide Karl Rove calling on him to step down. He also said the Bush administration is engaged in what he called an "orchestrated campaign to smear and intimidate truth-telling critics." We speak with Rep. Conyers and hear an excerpt of his speech on the floor of the U.S. Congress. [Includes transcript]
Click here to read to full transcript The Bush administration announced earlier this week that it would not be handing over the documents requested by the Justice Department as part of its investigation into who outted a covert CIA operative.
Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the White House may need up to 2 weeks to vet the material before handing it over to Justice Department investigators. This comes as the House Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat is calling on President Bush’s chief political adviser Karl Rove to resign.
Representative John Conyers, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee wrote a letter to Rove yesterday calling on him bluntly to step down. He also said the Bush administration is engaged in what he called an "orchestrated campaign to smear and intimidate truth-telling critics."
- Tape: Rep. John Conyers speaking on floor of the U.S. Congress on October 8, 2003.
- Rep. John Conyers, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.
AMY GOODMAN: Last night, Conyers took to the floor of the U.S. House to publicly demand Rove’s resignation.
JOHN CONYERS: Even if he hasn’t broken the letter of the law, Mr. Rove’s actions are morally indefensible.
He has used his influence to smear and intimidate a whistleblower, an ambassador to the United States government, and to further publicize Mrs. Wilson’s name, in fact, a C.I.A. covert operative, and to impugn the Wilsons’ integrity.
As a matter of fact, according to The New York Times, the Republican congressional staffer said that the administration’s strategy for dealing with the Wilsons was to slime and defend.
There is a clear conflict when one is investigating the White House staff. As a smatter of fact, it has been reported in Time Magazine that Attorney General Ashcroft over the years has paid Mr. Rove $746,000 for campaign consulting in his political races.
It’s also been reported that Mr. Rove was the driving force behind Ashcroft’s nomination as Attorney General; how the religious right pushed for Ashcroft’s nomination, written in The New York Times, January 7, 2001, by David Johnson and Neil Lewis.
We also note that Mr. Rove was reportedly fired from the campaign of President George H.W. Bush over a leak to Robert Novak.
"Why Are These Men Laughing", published in esquire magazine, written by Ron Suskine, January 2003. Wayne Slater, a Karl Rove biographer notes a pattern of unethical behavior. He says, "I don’t know who leaked what to whom. Most people don’t know the facts here. Both Bob Novak and Karl Rove have said it didn’t happen. But I have to say that it certainly was consistent with the Karl Rove that I know. If he didn’t do this, he certainly has a pattern of activity over the 15 years — 20 years that I have known him when he has done similar things." CNN, October 1, 2003.
Another Rove biographer, James Moore, thinks that he must have known about the leak and says, "after having watched Mr. Rove for all of these years, I know full well, and anybody who knows the way he works, that something of this nature does not happen without Karl checking the yes box."
"I’m saying that if Mr. Rove is not involved, I’ll eat the paperback copy of my own book, because this is a guy who controls everything, and he has a history of putting a layer of protection between himself and other people using the — using other operatives to get things done." Buchanan & Press, MSNBC, October 1,2003.
Finally, let us not forget that many have received information that Mr. Rove is the source of the initial illegal leaks themselves.
According to the London newspaper, The Guardian, on October 1, several journalists have confirmed off the record that Mr. Rove is the source these leaks. We know from the Washington Post that fully, six journalists were called with the initial leak.
Now, the above information is all publicly available. I do not possess a team of investigators. All one needs to do is gather — to gather this information is read The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Time Magazine.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressman John Conyers speaking on the floor of the house last night. Just before he went to the floor, I talked about ñ with him, his letter to Karl Rove telling Rove to resign.
JOHN CONYERS: This is reprehensible. I mean, we now have identified the mischief has coming out of the White House. See, what has happened now that’s different from the usual accusations that fly around here is that it is now been pinpointed to have come out of the White House.
So, when the President says, in effect, I doubt if we’ll ever be able to find out who did it, that gives away the whole thing, because first he’s not good at finding people. Out of the White House or in the White House.
Secondly, we all know that it came out of the White House because six reporters who got hustled by the White House said so, including Novak.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, we have a situation at the White House where the deadline was set for the white house to turn over any information, any relevant information to the Justice Department 5:00 PM Tuesday, yet that was not done.
What do you say about that?
JOHN CONYERS: Well, I — I don’t know where they’re going to get it from the clerks and receptionists, and secretaries in the White House.
The people that were doing this are right there near and around the oval office. Karl Rove is not a guy that you have to wait for him to send in a document by Tuesday at 5:00 or something like that. This is the political director for the President of the United States of America. And so we have now over and above the criminal aspects of this, which could burn anybody found guilty under United States code 18, section 793 of either promoting this or instigating this misinformation and revelation of the identity of a covert central intelligence agency operative. You can get up to ten years in a federal prison not of your choice. So —
AMY GOODMAN: So, Congressman Conyers, can you tell us what exactly you’re calling for?
JOHN CONYERS: Well, I’m calling for first — first for Rove to step down because regardless of the criminal character of this, the whole thing is obscene, and it seems to be clearly going back to him because some of the reporters said so.
Now, number two, we are calling for an independent council. Which is precisely what the independent council was — independent council was created by law, we have had this for a number of years.
It’s created when the White House or someone in it is under investigation, they will — they will not have the investigation compromised by the person that the President named to be Attorney General conducting, in effect, the investigation.
Here that’s pretty patent, but in addition to it, there’s 746,000 reasons why there should be a — an independent counsel here — because that’s the amount of dollars that John Ashcroft paid Karl Rove as a political consultant in the course of three campaigns.
AMY GOODMAN: How often do you call for the resignation of an administration official, Congressman Conyers?
JOHN CONYERS: I can’t remember ever having done it. I have called for some impeachments in the course of my career, but not resignations.
AMY GOODMAN: Has the White House responded?
JOHN CONYERS: No.
AMY GOODMAN: Have other congress members or senators backed your call?
JOHN CONYERS: Yes. Iím running into people now that are meeting me and getting ready to do their own thing. I didn’t consult with my colleagues when I did this.
AMY GOODMAN: Why at this point did you decide to do it?
JOHN CONYERS: Because I just got enough material together. I mean, look, this wasn’t the toughest research I have ever pulled. Reading Newsweek and Time magazine or even one of them should get you — should alert somebody without having to be a congressman or a lawyer or a member of the Judiciary Committee.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Conyers, it’s interesting what’s happening at the white house because the press secretary has been saying, well, this investigation is the Justice Department’s, all things should be referred to the Justice Department, yet when the Justice Department tells the white house they should gather all relevant information and hand it in Tuesday at 5:00 PM, the White House then says they will spend the next two weeks vetting that information. Yet the Press Secretary had said right up through Condoleezza Rice that all relevant information should be driven directly to the Justice Department.
JOHN CONYERS: Well, you know, I — one of the problems with tracking the contradictions and misstatements of this administration is that after you do so many every day, you get kind of numb to it. You stop — you can’t be shocked anymore. I mean, how many times does this happen, and you cannot say I can’t believe this, but it’s happening incredibly bold thing about this administration is that they do these things right out front.
General Ashcroft says, look, we got to wiretap lawyers who have suspicious clients. That’s all there is to it. And we reserve the right to take an American citizen and put him before a special trial with military people, execute it, if that’s what they think is appropriate. We’re fighting terrorism. Don’t you folks get the problem here?
So, it goes on and on and on. Then he stops using the patriot act. A lot of people are exercise — exorcised about the Patriot Act, but a lot of these things he’s doing ex parte that are not even in the bill and they’re drafting Patriot 2 at the same time that he’s traveling the country persuading people that they would sleep more comfortably in their beds with Patriot 1.
It’s an incredible situation, and I have my responsibilities to bring it forward. There’s one thing that will straighten this out, is when the American people start rising up saying, this isn’t partisanship.
We want to have an investigation if our — if our C.I.A. agents are not safe because somebody in the white house wants to embarrass them, then what kind of a system do we have?
AMY GOODMAN: Last question — this was just called to my attention. The D.N.C. chair, Terry McAuliffe is calling on Congressman Sherwood Bolert to postpone his planned fund-raiser with Karl Rove that’s going to be taking place in Cooperstown, New York, Friday, until the Department of Justice probe into the outing of the undercover agent is completed. Any word on that, or thoughts?
JOHN CONYERS: I didn’t know anything about it. Iím astounded that Sherwood Bolert and Karl Rove would be holding a fund-raiser.
Is this Sherwood Bolert holding the fund-raiser for Karl Rove’s defense fund, or is Karl Rove holding the fund-raiser for the election of Sherwood Bolert?
AMY GOODMAN: Congress member John Conyers speaking to us yesterday, just before he went to the floor of the House call for the resignation of Karl Rove. Again, the Boston Globe reporting the White House may invoke executive privilege to bar the Justice Department from viewing some documents related to the investigation of who in the White House blew the cover of a covert C.I.A. operative.