The New York Times has intermittently written up the strange allegations that former White House advisor Karl Rove tried to destroy a former governor of the state of Alabama, Don Siegelman. Siegelman, a Democrat, was prosecuted by the Justice Department and ultimately sentenced to federal prison for bribery. He was recently released on appeal, which probably spurred the paper's new interest in the case.
In a recent appearance on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," Karl Rove was asked if he had a role in the Justice Department's decision to prosecute Don Siegelman. The former Democratic governor of Alabama was convicted and sentenced to more than seven years, quite possibly for political reasons, and there is evidence that Mr. Rove may have been pulling the strings.
Mr. Rove, who has traded in his White House job for that of talking head, talked a lot but didn't answer the question. He also did not directly deny being involved. The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed him to testify. It should do everything in its power to see that he does and that he answers all of its questions.
Mr. Siegelman -- who began serving his sentence before being freed on appeal -- was convicted on corruption charges that appear to be flimsy, and his supporters have long insisted that he was prosecuted for partisan reasons. Until his indictment, he was the Democrats' best chance of taking back the Alabama governorship.
After Mr. Siegelman's conviction, Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican lawyer, swore in an affidavit that she had heard another G.O.P. political operative, Bill Canary, boast in a phone call that his wife would "take care" of Mr. Siegelman and that Mr. Rove was involved in the planning. Mr. Canary's wife is Leura Canary, the United States attorney for Montgomery, and her office prosecuted Mr. Siegelman.
The Times concluded:
Mr. Rove seems willing to talk about this case everywhere except where he is required to: in Congress, in public, under oath. The American people, and Mr. Siegelman, are counting on Congress to find out the truth.
Speaking of talking about the case anywhere but under oath, the same is true of Rove's accuser, Jill Simpson, although you wouldn't learn that from the Times. Neither would you learn any of the other facts that make her story so unbelievable.
For that, go to John Hinderaker at Powerline, who rebutted Simpson's theory in the May 26 issue of the Weekly Standard (subscription required), in which he dissected a gullible 60 Minutes report on the "scandal" from February.
Jill Simpson is an unusual woman. A lawyer, she has scratched out an uncertain living in DeKalb County, Alabama. Fellow DeKalb County lawyers describe her as "a very strange person" who "lives in her own world." The daughter of rabid Democrats, she has rarely if ever been known to participate in politics as even a low-level volunteer. Yet today, she is a minor celebrity who is unvaryingly described in the press as a "Republican operative." Those who know her in DeKalb County scoff at the idea that she is a Republican at all.
Simpson claims to have participated in a phone conversation with several Alabama Republicans in which she was made privy to a plot involving the Republican governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, a former justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, a federal judge, two United States attorneys, several assistant United States attorneys, the Air Force, and, apparently 12 jurors, to "railroad" former governor Don Siegelman into his 2006 conviction for bribery and mail fraud. Every person whose name Simpson has invoked has labeled her story a fantasy, including Siegelman; she claimed to have played a key role both in his giving up his unsuccessful contest of the 2002 gubernatorial election and in his defense of the criminal charges against him.
Simpson can offer no evidence that she has ever spoken to or met Karl Rove. Moreover, when she told her story of the alleged conspiracy against Don Siegelman to John Conyers's House Judiciary Committee staff, she said that she heard references to someone named "Carl" in the aforementioned telephone conversation -- she made the natural inference that this must be Karl Rove -- but never offered the blockbuster claim that Rove himself had recruited her to spy on Siegelman. Neither in the affidavit that she submitted to the committee, nor in 143 pages of sworn testimony that she gave to the committee's staff, did she ever claim to have met Karl Rove, spoken to Karl Rove, or carried out any secret spy missions on his behalf, even though the whole point of her testimony was to try to spin out a plot against Siegelman that was ostensibly led by someone named "Carl."