The former head of the Justice Department legal team responsible for the government’s lawsuit against the tobacco industry has disclosed gross political interference by the Bush Administration to protect the tobacco defendants in the case. Sharon Eubanks led the Justice Department team suing the tobacco industry and had been with the Justice Department for twenty two years before retiring in December. She recently went public with the disclosure of political meddling involved in the Tobacco lawsuit and says she did so because the interference in that case was the same kind of political interference involved in the work of U.S. Attorney who were fired.
Eubanks says the firing is further evidence of political interference with the work of the Justice Department. In the tobacco litigation, she revealed the Bush Administration repeatedly ordered her to take steps in the lawsuit that weakened the government’s case and favored the tobacco industry. She reported that in the final weeks before 2005 trial, United States Attorney Gonzales’ office began micro-managing the strategy to favor the defendant tobacco industry and to weaken the government’s case. At the time, the government announced they were cutting back on the amount of the penalty they were seeking by billions of dollars. Eubanks now reports this the result of demands to do so made by Bush Administration and was done over the objections of Justice Department team members handling the case. She says the Justice Department lawyers were also ordered to drop arguments that tobacco executives should be removed from corporate positions as part of the penalty the government was seeking in the case. Not only that, but she disclosed that She was ordered to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. One expert quit in disgust. Then she was handed a script she was instructed to read verbatim to limit what the Justice Department lawyers were allowed to ask the court to do in the case.
In fact, this kind of Bush Administration political interference to protect the tobacco defendants case is the same kind of political interference it used in the firing of U.S. Attorneys. Those firings were done to protect Republicans and friends of the Bush Administration who were being prosecuted or investigated for criminal activity or as punishment for not yielding to pressure to file frivolous voter fraud cases where Republicans had been defeated.
The tobacco case interference was done purely to benefit friends of the Bush Administration and the tobacco industry has been a long time friend of the Bush Administration. Karl Rove, adviser to the Bush White House, while masterminding Bush’s gubernatorial victory continued to hold his job as a paid political consultant to the Phillip Morris cigarette company. The tobacco industry has contributed millions to the Republican and Bush campaign interests and has been rewarded by the Bush administration protecting it through this kind of political interference.
Eubanks also said
"Political interference is happening at Justice across the Department. When decisions are made now in the Bush attorney general’s office, politics is the primary consideration…The rule of law goes out the window."
I am no longer surprised by the arrogance of the Bush White House in protecting their financial friends and illegally interfering in criminal prosecutions and investigations of big business, big oil and the tobacco industry. What surprises me is the gullibility of the fans of conservative talk shows who mouth the excuses and lies the spin doctors of the White House come up with to white wash their conduct.