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It's tough out there for US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. Yesterday in Chicago he ran from a press conference after three minutes as questions rained down on the political corruption of the Justice Department.
Former top attorney Sharon Eubanks threw another big rock in the pond last week. She led the department's giant case against big tobacco, and sought $130 billion dollars in penalties.
At the last minute, White House appointees chopped that to $10 billion. This insider now charges politics and a betrayal of the American public.
This hour On Point: justice, politics, huge money and Sharon Eubanks.
Quotes from the Show:
"What was very interesting about this case was just at the close of trial, the government indicated that instead of 130 billion dollars, they would seek only 10 billion dollars [in smoking cessation remedies]." Jason McLure
"The reason that it's so important right now for everyone to understand that these were politically motivated changes to what the government is seeking [in damages] is because the case continues to this day on appeal and the same individuals are in charge. When it came to light — the issue surrounding the firing of eight US attorneys — I began to think more deeply about what had happened in our case" Sharon Eubanks
"They tried to get the trial team, me and the attorneys working with me, to come up with a lower dollar amount. But by that time, we already had put in the evidence of the propriety of 130-billion-dollar remedy on smoking cessation. All of that evidence was in. One thing that I was told to do before we rested was to try to get in some other evidence that would weaken the strength of the evidence we had already put in." Sharon Eubanks
"Every lawsuit filed by the United States, at least in the civil division, has to be approved by a political appointee — that's just the nature of how business is conducted." Sharon Eubanks
"I had voiced objections to the [dollar amount] proposal early on not based on a policy point of view, but based on legal considerations." Frank Marine
"There should not be this much interference going on in our executive branch." Listener from Atlanta
"The problem is that we persist in calling this the politicization of the Justice Department. This was criminal behavior and obstruction of justice." Listener from Iowa
"It's very typical of internal Justice Department investigations - they don't ask questions they don't want to hear answers to." Jonathan Turley
Jason McLure, Justice Department Reporter for Legal Times
Sharon Eubanks, former lead lawyer in U.S. vs. Phillip Morris et al., the federal government's landmark racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry
Frank Marine, former member of the government's legal team in U.S. vs. Phillip Morris et al.
Jonathan Turley, Professor of Law at George Washington University.
This program aired on March 28, 2007.
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