Thursday :: Jun 9, 2005

Big Tobacco's Man In The Alberto Gonzales Justice Department

by Steve

The Associate Attorney General who ordered the Justice Department lawyers to tank a racketeering suit against Big Tobacco, Robert McCallum, has an interesting background as we noted yesterday.

First, he is a Yale classmate of one George W. Bush. (As as commenter Lysias noted, a Skull and Bones classmate of Bush, to boot.)

Second, he is the member of Attorney General John Ashcroft’s senior staff who Ted Olson and the White House specifically asked to defend the Administration in the Cheney Energy Task Force/Enron legal proceedings.

Third, he was in charge of the early stages of the Valerie Plame investigation before even Ashcroft concluded that an outside counsel was needed.

He was also the lead attorney in defending the government’s right to prevent news organizations from finding out about terror suspects detained by the US.

And lastly, McCallum used to be R. J. Reynolds' attorney at Atlanta's Alston and Bird law firm, which calls into question why the Ashcroft and Gonzales Justice Departments thought a man who worked for the industry should even be heading up this litigation in the first place.

In other words, McCallum is on good personal terms with both Bush and Cheney, and is a true believe in the imperial presidency. As for what he did to tank the settlement amount in this racketeering case, which has now caused the judge involved (who also has history with McCallum) to question McCallum’s motives, the Washington Post is reporting this morning that McCallum directed his own witnesses to lower their estimates of what would be necessary for a good settlement against Big Tobacco, thereby softening the sanctions, against the wishes of his own prosecutors on the case.

And with Democrats and children’s health advocates on the warpath over this, we’ll see more and more on this in the days ahead.

Steve :: 8:47 AM :: Comments (59) :: TrackBack (2) :: Digg It!