Add this sordid tale to the ever-lengthening novella, which recounts various high crimes and misdemeanors that could be investigated during Bush's upcoming impeachment hearings.
“High” in the legal parlance of the 18th century means “against the State”. A high crime is one which seeks the overthrow of the country, which gives aid or comfort to its enemies, or which injures the country to the profit of an individual or group. In democracies and similar societies it also includes crimes which attempt to alter the outcome of elections.
Hmmm, injures the country to the profit of a group. The burden of proof on that shouldn't be too difficult to meet, right?
Salon: Big Tobacco watchdogs? Smoke 'em out:
It's been almost two weeks since senior Justice Department officials -- one of them with close personal ties to President Bush -- forced their own attorneys to shave $120 billion off the amount sought in the department's case against the tobacco industry, and evidence that top officials plotted to undermine the department's case against Big Tobacco continues to mount. A government witness revealed this weekend that Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum threatened to have him removed from the witness list unless he softened his testimony against the tobacco companies. The witness, Harvard University business professor Max H. Bazerman, planned to recommend that the court appoint a monitor to determine whether certain senior tobacco industry management should be removed. McCallum, a former R.J. Reynolds attorney and a buddy of President Bush's from their days at Yale, apparently didn't like the notion of punishing specific tobacco execs, and relayed a “strong request” that Bazerman change his testimony to say that appointing such a monitor would be legally inappropriate under certain circumstances.
Bazerman said he came forward because he was concerned that the career trial attorneys on the case would be blamed for the softening of the government's case against the industry. But, says Bazerman, the fault lies with Bush cronies at the Justice Department. “I want the government to behave appropriately,” he said, according to the Post. “I can't think of an honest, plausible reason other than political interference for what they're doing.”
More from the WaPo, including this:
Today, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, who is set to decide whether the industry engaged in a conspiracy and whether to impose penalties upon the companies, is to meet in a closed-door session with government and tobacco lawyers.
Sources close to the case say that they expect Kessler will question lawyers about the government's last-minute reversal of its recommended penalties. Numerous members of Congress have called for an investigation of political interference into the case, and on Friday, four senators demanded that McCallum be removed from the case or future settlement talks. The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has begun investigating the allegations.