We’ll be hearing more accounts like this…
The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark
lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush
administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take
steps that weakened the government’s racketeering case.
Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’s
office began micromanaging the team’s strategy in the final weeks of
the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government’s claim that the
industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.
She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop
recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate
positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to
tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks
to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she
News reports on the strategy changes at the time caused an uproar in
Congress and sparked an inquiry by the Justice Department. Government
witnesses said they had been asked to change testimony, and one expert
withdrew from the case. Government lawyers also announced that they
were scaling back a proposed penalty against the industry from $130
billion to $10 billion.
Eubanks said Congress should not limit its investigation to the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys.
interference is happening at Justice across the department,” she said.
“When decisions are made now in the Bush attorney general’s office,
politics is the primary consideration. . . . The rule of law goes out
The most stressful moment, Eubanks said, came when the three
appointees ordered her to read word for word a closing argument they
had rewritten. The statement explained the validity of seeking a $10
“I couldn’t even look at the judge,” she said.
This is just sickening.