Rove grilled on US attorney firings
WASHINGTON - A federal prosecutor questioned former top presidential aide Karl Rove for several hours yesterday, trying to determine his precise role in the Bush administration's politically tinged firings of US attorneys.
It was the first time Rove has faced questioning in the controversy, which erupted in 2007 and has lingered because the Bush White House resisted efforts by Congress and the Justice Department to question Rove and others.
Rove and the prosecutor who interviewed him, acting US Attorney Nora Dannehy, declined to comment as they left the offices of Rove's lawyer separately.
It is possible Rove may have to undergo further questioning.
"He has nothing to hide and plans to answer any further questions" the prosecutor might have, said Rebecca Carr, a spokeswoman for Patton Boggs, the law firm where the meeting took place. Rove was inside the law offices for about five hours.
"I don't think it was a confrontational interview," said Carr. "I think he was trying really hard to work with them."
So far, the investigation has turned on whether then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other Justice Department officials told the truth about the dismissals, which e-mail traffic suggests may have originated at the White House.
Some Justice Department officials at first said the US attorneys were let go because of poor performance.
Rove, the president's top political adviser, inquired in early January 2005 about firing US attorneys, according to previously released e-mails between White House and Justice Department officials. A Justice Department inquiry that wrapped up in late 2008 concluded that political considerations played a role in the firings of as many as four of the prosecutors. Nine in all were fired in 2006.