WASHINGTON (AFP) — A former top aide to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove, failed to show up for subpoenaed testimony before the House of Representatives Thursday in a probe of controversial firings of federal prosecutors, at Bush's request, sources said.
Rove, called to testify in an investigation into the 2006 firings of nine federal prosecutors which some saw as politically motivated, and led to the resignation of then-attorney general Alberto Gonzales, did not show up, the House of Representatives said.
In a letter to the judicial affairs committee Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, argued that his client could not be compelled to testify about the issue because at the time he was working in the White House.
"Mr Rove remains prepared to explore alternatives, including an informal interview or written responses to questions," Luskin wrote.
President Bush asked Rove not to appear.
"A present or former immediate adviser to the president is constitutionally immune from compelled congressional testimony about matters that (...) relate to his or her official duties," wrote Fred Fielding, a current counselor to Bush, in a letter addressed to Luskin.
"Mr Rove is not required to appear in response to the Committee's subpoena. Accordingly, the president has directed him not to do so," Fielding added.
But Democratic lawmakers rejected Rove's position.
"Those claims are not legally valid" insisted Democratic Representative Linda Sanchez.
Rove, close to Bush before he became Texas governor, left the president's team in 2007 and has been working as a television political analyst, including on the Fox network.
In December, a Senate panel found Rove in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify and provide documents in an investigation into the same firings.
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