A prominent Illinois Republican Party leader may have tried to use his friendship with the former White House political aide Karl Rove to push for the ouster of the United States attorney in Chicago, a federal prosecutor said in court on Wednesday.Just as in the Don Siegelman case, Rove's attorney is denying any involvement by Mr. Rove. In fact, in responding to these particular allegations, Rove's attorney is merely chalking it up to the fact poor Karl has to fend off such approaches by eager Republican buddies of his all the time:
The accusation came in the trial of a Chicago-area political fund-raiser and businessman, Antoin Rezko, who is facing bribery charges as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation that has been a source of embarrassment to both Democrats and Republicans in Illinois.
Mr. Rezko’s former business partner is cooperating with the authorities and is expected to testify that Mr. Rezko told him in 2004 that the Illinois Republican Party official was “working with Mr. Rove to have Mr. Fitzgerald removed so that someone else can come in,” and perhaps terminate the investigation, an assistant United States attorney, Carrie Hamilton, said in court on Wednesday, referring to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago.
The Republican official who is accused of seeking Mr. Fitzgerald’s ouster, Robert Kjellander, is a longtime friend of Mr. Rove.
I spoke to Luskin just now, and he said that his statement ought to be qualified a bit: his statement on Kgellander stands as is, he said, but during the independent counsel investigation, he said, Rove was "frequently" approached about canning Fitzgerald: "a number of people approached Karl and suggested that Fitzgerald be removed because of the alleged politicization of the investigation, but he never took any follow-up steps except to say that I can't talk about that. He didn't want to do anything seen as compromising Fitzgerald's independence." Those approaches, Luskin said, came during fundraisers or other political events "in an unsolicited way.... Karl simply never responded and did not take any action."So you see, it appears that Karl's Republican colleagues who made such suggestions were horribly misguided in thinking Karl could actually do something about U.S. Attorney hirings and firings. Yet mysteriously, many seem to have approached him with some frequency.
Honestly, what must they all have been thinking?