Chairman Conyers Releases Jill Simpson Transcript on the Prosecution of former Alabama Governor Siegelman
Adam Zagorin, Time Magazine - October 10, 2007
A Republican lawyer claims she was told that Karl Rove -- while serving as President Bush's top political advisor -- had intervened in the Justice Department's prosecution of Alabama's most prominent Democrat. Longtime Alabama GOP activist Dana Jill Simpson first made the allegation in June, but has now provided new details in a lengthy sworn statement to the House Judiciary Committee. The Committee is expected to hold public hearings on the Alabama case next week as part of its investigation of possible political interference by the Bush Administration in the activities of the Department of Justice.
Today, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers released the transcript from the sworn testimony of Dana Jill Simpson, the Alabama attorney who earlier this year executed an affadavit that has stirred renewed interest in the prosecution and subsequent conviction of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. In the affadavit and the closed-door interview with committee staff, she cites conversations that allege Karl Rove's involvement in the decision to prosecute Siegelman. The issue is expected to be covered during an upcoming joint subcommittee hearing titled, "Allegations of Selective Prosecution: The Erosion of Public Confidence in Our Federal Justice System."
Points from the Sworn On-the-Record Interview of Dana Jill Simpson by the House Judiciary Committee Staff
1. Ms. Simpson stated under oath that she adheres to and stands by the statements in her May 21, 2007, affidavit. (Pages 85-86) She testified: "What I understood, or what I believed Mr. Canary to be saying, was that he had had this ongoing conversation with Karl Rove about Don Siegelman, and that Don Siegelman was a thorn to them and basically he was going to -- he had been talking with Rove. Rove had been talking with the Justice Department, and they were pursuing Don Siegelman as a result of Rove talking to the Justice Department at the request of Bill Canary." (27)
2. Ms. Simpson described a 2005 conversation with Rob Riley in which Mr. Riley stated that, in late 2004, Karl Rove had contacted the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice to press for further prosecution of Don Siegelman, and had also stated that the case would be assigned to a federal judge who "hated" Mr. Siegelman and who would "hang Don Siegelman." (50-57) According to Ms. Simpson, Mr. Riley stated:* that the case against Don Siegelman in the Northern District had been "miserably messed up" by United States Attorney Alice Martin and had been dismissed by a federal Judge in 2004 (48-50);
* that, with that case out of the way, Mr. Siegelman was "the biggest threat" to Governor Bob Riley -- Rob Riley's father -- in the coming 2006 Governor's race (48);
* that, in late 2004, Bill Canary and Governor Riley had spoken to Karl Rove about Mr. Siegelman and that Rove had approached the head of the Public Integrity section of the Department about bringing another case against Mr. Siegelman and giving more resources to the prosecution (50-52);
* that the new case against Mr. Siegelman would be brought in the Middle District of Alabama and would be assigned to Chief Judge Mark Fuller, whom Rob Riley knew from college (50-53);
* that "Fuller would hang Don Siegelman" because he believed Mr. Siegelman had caused Fuller to be audited in a former position which had exposed some questionable financial dealings by Fuller (56-57); and
* that Mr. Siegelman would be indicted on charges related to Richard Scrushy because Mr. Scrushy was very unpopular and it would be useful to link the two men together. (84-85, 106).
In fact, several months after this conversation described by Ms. Simpson, Governor Siegelman and Richard Scrushy were indicted in the Middle District of Alabama on May 17, 2005 and the case was assigned to Judge Fuller.
3. During the interview, Ms. Simpson responded to some of the comments that have been made in recent months regarding the statements in her May 21, 2007, affidavit:* Ms. Simpson explained why she believes that the "Karl" discussed in the conversation described in her May 21, 2007, affidavit was Karl Rove. (25-26.)
* Ms. Simpson identified telephone records reflecting the November 18, 2002, call described in her May 21, 2007, affidavit. (29-30, 32) She also identified other phone calls between her and Rob Riley during the 2002 campaign season, and identified a series of letters showing that she has regularly worked on legal matters with Mr. Riley since 1998. (30-34)
* Ms. Simpson testified that the affidavit she executed on May 21, 2007, had a narrow focus and only covered the events and circumstances surrounding the November 18, 2002, telephone call -- and did not include all the information known to her that was potentially relevant to the Siegelman prosecution -- because she had only been asked to prepare an affidavit on that phone conversation. (81, 140.) Ms. Simpson further stated that she had been reluctant to become involved in the matter and had delayed some time before concluding that she was obligated to prepare and execute her affidavit. (70, 73-74, 79.)
* Ms. Simpson testified that she is a lifelong Republican, who has worked on political campaigns for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Judge Roy Moore of Alabama, and Governor Bob Riley of Alabama, among others. (7-11)