President Obama would rather look to the future, but Democrats persist in probing the Bush administration’s alleged misdeeds.
But the power shift in Washington is also giving Congress an opening to dig into political controversies of the past – a move that Mr. Obama, both as candidate and president, said he would rather avoid. Exhibit A is the congressional subpoena for former Bush adviser Karl Rove, issued on Monday.
“Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it,” said Rep. John Conyers (D) of Mich., who chairs the House Judiciary panel that issued the subpoena. “After two years of stonewalling, it’s time for him to talk.”
At issue is whether presidential advisers can be compelled to testify before Congress. Chairman Conyers wants Mr. Rove to appear before his panel to answer questions on the 2006 firings of US attorneys, prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D), and “politicization of the Department of Justice.”
The panel also wants the Obama administration to release relevant documents from the Bush administration bearing on these issues.
The legal issues for the new administration are highly controversial, but both the White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress have laid the groundwork for a shift in policy from the Bush administration over executive privilege, which was frequently invoked in the Bush years in clashes with the Congress.