This morning, AOL headlines its top news with the line, “E-mails Show Rove Involved in Firings,” but when you click on that link, you learn only of one line in an e-mail where Kyle Sampson, the op aide to Alberto Gonzalez, wrote about firing all the U.S. attorneys that “if Karl thinks there would be political will to do it, then so do I.”
Note the conditional here. This statement says nothing about what Karl Rove thinks, but instead offers insight into how Sampson would react if Rove thought there was political will to replace the attorneys. In a January 6 e-mail, Colin Newman, roughly quoting a conversation he had with Rove, writes that he asked “how we planned to proceed regarding US Attorneys, whether we were going to allow all to stay, request resignations from all and accept only some of them, or selectively replace them, etc.” Note that Rove asked how they were planning to proceed, thus indicating that he was aware of plans to replace some or all of the U.S. Attorneys.
That does confirm that the White House was involved. Only 8 of the attorneys were replaced — and long after the e-mails were written (one was fired last summer, the remaining seven in December).
It doesn’t seem that Rove himself did anything wrong. To be sure, Newsweek‘s
Michael Isikoff is correct to write that the president’s top political aide “had a greater level of involvement in the dismissal of the prosecutors than the White House has previously acknowledged.” But, a greater involvement than previously disclosed doesn’t amount to scandal.
Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY concludes that “Karl Rove was in the middle of this mess from the beginning.” Yeah, he was involved. But, given what Sampson wrote about political will, it seems that if anything Rove encouraged his colleagues to proceed more cautiously. Let me repeat only 8 U.S. Attorneys (fewer than 10%) were fired — and long after this e-mail exchange.
Given that the U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, it makes sense that his top political aides would offer advice on whether to replace them. The Administration should have been more forthcoming about the reasons for the firing. Once again, poor public relations skills lead to the perception of a scandal.
And once again, the MSM seems convinced that Karl Rove had been involved in some kind of scandal. Given that Rove never misrepresented his role in the firings of the U.S. Attorneys, the issue is not his misdeeds, but why other Administration officials were not as forthcoming as they should have been about the President exercising his prerogative to dismiss appointees who serve at his pleasure.
To me, this appears more clumsy than scandalous. And the latest headlines combined with the overblown rhetoric of Democrats like Schumer shows how the MSM and the Democrats are ever eager to paint Karl Rove in a negative light.