Followers of this blog have undoubtedly read Carol Leonnig’s Washington Post Page One story about lead prosecutor Sharon Eubanks’ allegations of political interference in the latter days of the tobacco trial.
However, the NPR audio interview by John Ydstie with Eubanks has several noteworthy segments which should be written down for posterity:
1. When asked if Gonzales was aware of administration appointees’ interference with the tobacco case, Eubanks said that Kyle Sampson was cc’d on their emails, so she was sure Gonzales was aware. ( Sampson, who resigned Monday over the fired-attorneys scandal, had been Gonzales’ chief of staff.)
2. As for the Office of Professional Responsibilty investigation, Eubanks flatly called it a “whitewash.”
–She said the OPD is not an independent office in the JD.
–She said that she had called then-Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum about one of the OPD issues and he said that he’d just call the head of OPD and address the issue himself. “If it’s an independent investigation, why would the subject of the investigation be in a position to call and to get changes made?”
–She said that she had never been asked a single question about White House interference, though “I had submitted emails, communications between the White House officials and Justice Department officials. I was not questioned about those documents.”
3. When asked why she was coming forward now, Eubanks said that a tobacco appeal is about to be filed. The same JD is in place now, she said, and various administration officials are still at Justice–including Peter Keisler, who is still the head of the Civil Division. These are the people who will be making decisions about the case and about what issues are going to be appealed.
Eubanks said there were many parallels between the tobacco case and the current fired-attorneys scandal. As a 22-year career attorney–not a political appointee (”I did not ’serve at the pleasure of the President’”)–she fears for the career attorneys at Justice. It is important, she said, to ensure that career people can do their jobs, so that there is continuity at the JD.
NB: The WP story names the three political appointees responsible for the last-minute shifts in the government’s tobacco case in June 2005: then-Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum, then-Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler and Keisler’s deputy at the time, Dan Meron.
Washington Post item:
Tobacco-on-Trial Interview with Sharon Eubanks, August, 2006: