Specter offers deal on prosecutors

first_imgPresidential press secretary Tony Snow again cast the administration’s offer to allow Rove and the others to talk to lawmakers in private as the best deal Democrats are going to get. “We opened with a compromise,” he told reporters. Democrats also did not budge from their insistence that Rove be questioned publicly and under oath. “I’ve had a lot of those unstructured briefings and found that I was given, in many instances, not the whole truth, nothing near the whole truth,” said the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. His committee, by voice vote Thursday, gave Leahy authority to issue subpoenas for Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy, William Kelley. The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., was given that same authority a day earlier. But neither chairman appeared in a rush to issue the subpoenas to White House officials and provoke a showdown. WASHINGTON – A Senate Republican offered President George W. Bush a compromise Thursday in the standoff about the dismissals of federal prosecutors, suggesting that select lawmakers question Karl Rove and other administration officials in public but not under oath. White House counsel Fred Fielding promised to convey the offer to Bush, said Sen. Arlen Specter, who took the first step toward brokering a deal a few hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved but did not issue subpoenas for Rove and others. Specter’s plan would grant one of Bush’s key demands – that the officials named in the subpoena authorization testify without being sworn. But the proposal dismisses other White House conditions by suggesting that Rove and the others testify in public. “Mr. Fielding did not accept or reject it,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. In letters Thursday, Senate and House Democrats rejected Fielding’s offer to let Rove and other officials talk about their roles in the firings but only on Bush’s terms: in private, off the record and not under oath. “I have never heard the Senate take an ultimatum like that,” Leahy said. “I know he’s the decider for the White House,” Leahy added, referring to Bush. “But he’s not the decider for the United States Senate.” Nonetheless, the offer stands, Perino said. “Unfortunately, these letters show they aren’t as interested in ascertaining the facts than going on a political fishing expedition,” she said. Specter, the Senate committee’s former chairman, insisted room for compromise remains. “Rejections in a news conference don’t count,” said Specter, R-Pa. “Rejections eyeball to eyeball count.” He suggested the committees could grant the president’s demand that his aides not be required to take an oath, but persuade the White House to allow public proceedings with perhaps 16 House and Senate Judiciary Committee members asking questions. Taking an oath was not necessary, Specter said, because congressional witnesses are required by law to tell the truth. Specter also said the situation might benefit from time. “The dust has to settle first.” On that, Snow agreed, “We’re going to let this thing simmer a little bit and let people reflect on it.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more