House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. issued a subpoena on Monday to former Bush administration adviser Karl Rove, renewing a balance-of-power battle about whether Congress can compel testimony from former White House officials.
The subpoena orders Rove to appear for a deposition at 10 a.m. Feb. 2.
Conyers, D-Mich., wants to ask Rove about the "politicization of the Department of Justice, including the U.S. Attorney firings and the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman," according to Conyers' office.
"I have said many times that I will carry this investigation forward to its conclusion, whether in Congress or in court, and today's action is an important step along the way," Conyers said in a statement.
Rove did not comply with an earlier subpoena related to the U.S. Attorney firings. Administration lawyers argued that requiring such testimony would be unprecedented.
The constitutional question has been the subject of closely watched litigation. U.S. District Judge John Bates ruled in July that then-White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers did not enjoy absolute immunity from congressional subpoenas.
Justice Department lawyers appealed that decision, and oral argument is expected before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in April or May. Conyers' office suggests that the change in presidential administration may affect the case.
"Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it," Conyers said in his statement. "After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk."
Robert Luskin, a Patton Boggs partner who has represented Rove, could not be reached for comment.
First reported in The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times