The US Attorney scandal: not just political gain

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With Sen. Pete Domenici dipping below the 60% approval mark (for the first time!) in a recent poll, it looks like the scandal is making traction in th Land of Enchantment.

As I mentioned last night (and as Josh Marshall added) the scandal has been representative of the Bush administration’s entire term in office: making every decision based on how that decision will play out for their political gain, with no regard for justice, science, or even the rule of law. And I said that “We also know the lengths Republicans will go to advance their political agenda, including interference in a criminal investigation.

Well, via Think Progress comes this Washington Post story:

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.

Sharon Y. 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.

As usual, look who benefited:

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.

And, as usual, guess who suffered:

“The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said,” Eubanks said. “And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public.”
[…] 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.
(Emphasis mine)

There you have it: protection for corporate interests, while they work to screw over taxpayers.

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