Karl Rove to be Interviewed in Criminal Probe

Former top White House aide cooperating in investigation of firing of U.S. attorneys

WASHINGTON — Former top Bush White House aide Karl Rove is scheduled to be interviewed Friday as part of a criminal investigation into the firing of U.S. attorneys, according to a lawyer familiar with the investigation. 

Rove has said he will cooperate with the investigation being conducted by a special prosecutor into whether Bush administration officials or congressional Republicans should face criminal charges in the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.

An attorney told The Associated Press on Thursday that Rove will be questioned by the special prosecutor, Nora Dannehy. The attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was not authorized to talk to the media.

Rove's attorney Robert Luskin declined the comment on the timing of the interview, first reported by The Washington Post.

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 of the 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 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. President George W. 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.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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