The U.S. House Judiciary Committee chose to take unsworn testimony from former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove in a private session so that members could have ample time to question him, according to a published report.
But an Alabama attorney and Republican Party whistleblower says Rove's unsworn testimony will be worthless for the purposes of law enforcement.
Two aides to the House Judiciary Committee told Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story that the decision to have Rove testify behind closed doors was not a concession to the Bush administration:
According to two Judiciary Committee aides, the committee opted for the private testimony so that they could depose Rove for an extended period of time. During a public hearing, each committee member would have only a few minutes to ask questions.
“We could question him for 12 hours if we choose to,” said one of the aides.
The two aides confirmed that Rove would not be sworn in for his testimony, but they said testimony before Congress is de facto sworn, meaning any false statements could bring perjury charges:
Asked why in that case Congress bothers to swear people in during public hearings, one of the aides quipped, “Because it looks good.”
That argument did not sit well with Alabama attorney Jill Simpson, whose sworn testimony about a conference call involving GOP operatives indicated Rove was involved in a plan to bring a bogus prosecution against former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman.
"It is important for Karl Rove to be sworn under oath because others may assert he wasn't, and therefore the testimony isn't admissible in a court of law against them," Simpson says. "Congress is a fool not to swear Mr Rove under oath. I, however, suspect they know exactly why it was agreed he not be sworn."
Simpson has repeatedly pointed a finger of suspicion at Greg Craig, White House Counsel for the Obama administration and a former member of Williams & Connolly, a major Washington, D.C., law firm. Craig represented Rove on a book deal and has been friendly socially with the former Bush advisor, Simpson says. Also, Williams & Connolly represents a number of former Bush administration officials, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"I am sure that Greg Craig would know that unsworn testimony isn't worth the paper it is written on in a court of law," Simpson says. "Maybe we should hear from Mr Craig, as President Obama's lawyer, and from his former partner (Emmet Flood), who is President Bush's lawyer.
"They are the ones who struck the deal for Karl Rove to testify unsworn. What were they thinking, and why was this done in this fashion? Who are they protecting by taking unsworn testimony from Karl Rove?"
Simpson had one final thought about the ground rules for Rove's testimony:
"Since the aide for the House Judiciary Committee says the oath to tell the truth is for show only, then why don't they, for show, have Karl Rove take the oath? After all, why would he avoid it? If it truly is just for show, then Rove could take the oath, and that would once and for all put this issue behind him.
"Karl has repeatedly spouted off that he can't wait for the grilling, so why would he not agree to testify under oath? That way, there would be no question about his testimony."