Bench Memos

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Leahy Blowing Smoke


More on the phony scandal over the tobacco litigation (see here, here, and here):  Bob Schieffer of CBS News and Senator Patrick Leahy had this exchange on Face the Nation yesterday (according to the transcript of the show):

SCHIEFFER:  Sharon Eubanks talked to us and The Washington Post last week because the case is now on appeal and she’s afraid the government may try to back off its demands on the tobacco company.  She left the Justice Department a year and a half ago.  She said she was fed up, and she told me she was disillusioned.

Senator Leahy, this seems to me to be worse than replacing presidential appointees, these US attorneys.

Senator PATRICK LEAHY (Democrat, Vermont; Chairman, Judiciary Committee): Well, I think it’s all part of the same. What they’re doing is taking a–a federal law enforcement system and federal judiciary–judicial system that’s the envy of the world because of its independence and its competence and its integrity and trying to dismantle that by forcing out US attorneys because they don’t like what they’re doing. But, in this case, it’s egregious. I mean, all the years I was a trial lawyer, all the years I was a prosecutor, I never saw a case where they told, in her case, told her, `Here’s word for word what you read in your final argument.’ And when she had a case that she was going to win and get enormous damages that would go into the US Treasury, they said, `No, these are our friends. You got to cut it back.’  I–I have never seen anything in Democratic or Republican administrations that begins to equal that. 

An ill-informed observer could certainly share the Schieffer/Leahy view that Eubanks’s allegations are accurate.  And, if that same observer doesn’t understand much about political accountability in our representative democracy, he might also find it scandalous that career attorneys answer to DOJ senior officials who are appointed by the President or the Attorney General.  But note (in the passage that I italicize) that the demagogic Leahy, on national television, can’t restrain himself from going further and inventing facts and dialogue.  And in his ridiculous final sentence, he asserts that this non-scandal is worse than Watergate!  Yet again, the hyperpartisan Leahy has displayed the dismal level of his integrity.


Tags: Whelan


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