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Interference with Tobacco Litigation: DoJ Responds:

In today's Washington Post, John Kenney and Bruce Ohr respond to the allegations that the Bush Administration interfered with the federal government's RICO case against the major tobacco companies.

One of us is the senior career official in the Justice Department's criminal division, has served in the department for 56 years through Democratic and Republican administrations, and also served as the criminal division's principal decision maker in the tobacco case during the relevant period. The other one of us is the career chief of the organized crime and racketeering section in the criminal division and has served at Justice for 16 years, also during Democratic and Republican administrations.

The allegations reported in the article are entirely groundless. The Justice decisions at issue adopted and followed the authoritative positions we developed and the specific recommendations we made and approved as senior career prosecutors in the criminal division, which by Justice regulation is vested with authority over enforcement of civil and criminal RICO. Those positions, recommendations and decisions were based entirely on legal considerations, not political ones -- as the department's office of professional responsibility, staffed exclusively with independent career attorneys, concluded after the matter was investigated.

(Link via Ed Whelan)

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Interference with Tobacco Litigation: DoJ Responds:
  2. Was There "Political Interference" in Tobacco Litigation?
Randy R. (mail):
I'm willing to give the DOJ the benefit of the doubt on this one, except for one problem that I have. She alleged that she was forced to read the closing argument from a script that had been approved by one of these meddling political types.

If that's true (and I don't know if it is), but if it is, then that to my mind shows that there was interference. I'm sorry, but NO supervisor who knows even the slightest bit about litigation would ever require an attorney to read either the opening or closing argument from a script. If you have so little faith in an attorney in such an important case, you assign someone else.

Reading of any kind diminishes your credibility before the jury, and everyone knows that.
3.27.2007 12:37am
Randy R. (mail):
And do you know where I learned that, Prof. Adler? Well, I'm an alum of CWRU, and I took two semesters of Trial Litigation with the great Prof. McIlhenney, and you NEVER NEVER NEVER read to the jury, (unless you are actually quoting a document, of course.)

In fact, I can't ever imagine a scenario where a supervisor would require such a thing. If you don't trust the litigator to say all the right points, then you replace her with someone who can.
3.27.2007 12:40am
Advantage?:
But because this administration has a long, well-documented track record of forcing career employees in every department to lie or at least shade the truth in public (e.g., NASA scientists on global warming global warming, cost of medicare part D, military at all levels on the prospects for the war in Iraq................) this statement has approximately zero credibility.
3.27.2007 7:40am
Thomasly (mail):
Well it's not a surprise that those whose politics require them to wage a political war on the current administration would come to find that they have to undermine career civil servants as well. Collateral damage, I suppose.

Randy, there was no jury. There was an adverse decision at the appellate level, however. (I'm sure the judges were somehow compromised.)
3.27.2007 9:27am
Tim Dowling (mail):
I don't know Mr. Ohr, but if you were to ask DOJ career attorneys to list the most highly respected attorneys in the Department, Mr. Keeney (note spelling) would be at or near the top of many lists. The idea that this letter has no credibility is ludicrous.
3.27.2007 9:59am
Leland:
Roger R wrote: I'm willing to give the DOJ the benefit of the doubt on this one, except for one problem that I have. She alleged that she was forced to read the closing argument from a script that had been approved by one of these meddling political types.

And followed that up with: And do you know where I learned that, Prof. Adler? Well, I'm an alum of CWRU, and I took two semesters of Trial Litigation with the great Prof. McIlhenney, and you NEVER NEVER NEVER read to the jury, (unless you are actually quoting a document, of course.)

Ok Roger, if one never reads to the jury, and Ms. E account is correct and she did read to the jury; what's that tell you about her? I don't see what the problem is here other then giving credibility to a person who is making inconsistent arguments. Ms. E also claimed to "zealously" protect the rights of the citizenry, yet when told to read a prepared statement in which she objected with the content and protocol, she did it anyway.
3.27.2007 10:58am
Per Son:
Is it just me, but it seems that for quite a long time groups have waged political wars with a sitting president.

Heck, Bill Clinton was the target for 8 years, long before Monica. Now, those who waged war against Clinton believe waging war against Bush is baaaad!

What is the difference, or is it honestly just that only repubs can wage war against a sitting prez?
3.27.2007 11:25am
Kazinski:
Besides the prominence of these career DOJ officials, the fact that the original article left out all mention of the appellate decision that cut the legs out from under the case tells you most of what you need to know. Even an agenda driven reporter teamed up with a disgruntled former employee (that lost a huge case based on a novel application of law that didn't pan out) has some obligation to acknowlege significant facts.
3.27.2007 2:23pm
R. Loblaw (mail):
Wasn't this a bench trial?
3.27.2007 11:59pm
Cerveza (mail):
No matter! Just a speed-bump. On to the next "scandal."

Umm, now where did I put that thing?
3.28.2007 10:35am