Brownlee rebuffed DoJ demands to go easy on OxyContin maker.

Post: U.S. attorney John Brownlee rebuffed the DoJ’s demand that he go easy on the maker of OxyContin the night before he got them to plead guilty. The call came at night, when Brownlee was at home, from the chief of staff to the deputy attorney general. This explains why the DoJ targeted him for removal from office as a part of the ongoing attorney purge scandal. His name showed up on that list of attorneys to be fired just five days after the incident.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

24 replies on “Brownlee rebuffed DoJ demands to go easy on OxyContin maker.”

  1. I still can’t figure out why it’s any of Congress’s business when the Executive branch decides it wants to replace some people who work for the President. The Constitution gives him plenary power to do so. He doesn’t need a reason. The rest is just smoke-filled coffeehouse crap.

  2. You can’t figure it out because you pretend to forget, time and time again, that it is criminal, corrupt, and unethical to try and influence the outcome of prosecutions and protect friends by threatening attorneys. You really think the DOJ should be a fixer, and that attorney’s should violate their oaths and ethical standards in order to selectively bury or pursue prosecutions as favors and gamesmanship?

    Your silly argument is like arguing that there is nothing wrong with demanding that a female coworker sleep with you and threaten to fire her if she does not. After all, you don’t need a reason to fire her. Right?

  3. When he got in office Clinton fired all 93(?) US Attorneys and replaced them with hand-picked lawyers who’d do his bidding. Bush replaced what, like 8? And this is a scandal?

    But for the Democrats willing ideological consorts in the press this would have been entirely unremarkable.

  4. J.S., pluge’s analogy is a very good one. If youre fire all of your employees, that’s their right. But if you fire only the ones who rebuff your demands for sex, that’s a scandal.

  5. Quick question Smails. You have lauded the ‘powers of the preznit’ ad nauseum over the last few months, if not years.

    When a Democratic fist is wrapped around the new ‘Sceptre of Power’ (you know, kinda like Dubya’s Light Sabre) will you afford them the same?

  6. Oh, come on fellas. Where’s your sense of humor? The door was wide open – I had to walk through it.

    As for Tim’s question, yeah, I favor a strong Executive and would even under a Dem administration which I admit seems quite likely for ’08. But the power Bush exercised in firing these 8 US Attorneys is one of the most basic and fundamental powers afforded the President, ie, the right to decide who works for him, that I fail to see how it qualifies as expanding the power the President. Indeed, when compared to Clinton, it’s not even that a robust use of the power.

    But as usual y’all have everything turned around and upside-down, blinded by your hatred of Bush.

  7. No, it was improper for Nixon to fire Archibald Cox. Now tell me, which of the martyred 8 was investigating the Bush administration?

  8. The ‘hatred’ of Bush may be a true concept and I agree some people are blinded by it.

    However, your willingness to make a statement that you can later claim is a joke seems all too often a way for you to explain your behavior away.

    The ability of the President to determine who works for him/her is a truism. The removal of only a few US Attorneys, for seemingly spurious reasons (failure of the USA to ‘go along’ with total crap investigations into ‘voter fraud’) stinks to high heaven. Tim Griffin is a great example.

    Tim Griffin was a part of the voter caging operation in Ohio and elsewhere during the 2004 election. This operation was also trying to get US Attorneys like David Iglesias to go beyond their oaths and professional standards to prosecute cases without sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, for political gain.

    David Iglesias was fired; Tim Griffin was given a spot as the US Attorney for Arkansas, possibly as a reward for a job well done.

    Your claim of ‘Bill Clinton did it!’ strains credulity a little more every time you use it. We are in a different world now. Clinton did not fire for retribution, Bush and his cronies did. Leave Bill Clinton out of the argument, unless you can give us a different example of the Executive Branch firing attorneys that were retribution BEFORE Clinton.

  9. So then you agree that there are reasons for which it is wrong for a president to fire prosecutors. Thus our disagreement is a matter of degree, not kind. You apparently believe that it’s acceptable for a president to fire a prosecutor for investigating Republican allies, or failing to charge Democrats against whom there’s insufficient evidence, while much of the country believes that’s unacceptable.

  10. As for which fired USA was the closest to the administration in terms of investigating Republican wrongdoing, it was Carol Lam, of San Diego.

    It has been speculated that at least some of the other firings might have been to cover up Ms. Lam’s, because of her closeness to the Duke Cunningham/Wilkes/Foggo investigations, in which she got indictments. She was closing in on Jerry Lewis of CA when she was fired.

  11. Also Smails, as you point out, Clinton fired them ALL. That crosses all the lines, party, gender, race, religion, favorite sports team, etc…lest someone feel unfairly targeted.

    Bush however, fired very targeted individuals.

    Also, I dont hate Bush. Quite frankly I feel sorry for him. The guy had more handed to him than you, I or any 50 people we know…and he has left a trail of failure that stretches his entire life for others to clean up, or bury if you will. Face it, if he was not a Bush, he would be living in a double wide somewhere in Sugarland, TX doing partime work for Delay fumigating trailers…when he was not skipping his AA meetings or doing 30 days in county spotlighting deer.

    The thing the right most hates about Clinton…is he’s not a Republican.

  12. Much of the media and Democratic activists regard it as “unacceptable.” Most of the country couldn’t care less.

    And yeah, Mark, I do bring bring up previous administrations a lot in defending Bush to illustrate how something marketed by Dems and the media completely new and unique in American history actually has a lengthy pedigree. Clinton gets used the most b/c his was the most recent administration and one of the opposite major party.

    I understand why you’d prefer it if just “left Clinton out of it.” (For a while there a month or so ago I was hoping that talk of lying under oath and presidential pardons would become the focus of the ’08 campaign, but it appears to have whithered.) But I won’t just leave him out of it.

    Your specious argument about how “we’re in a different world now” is absurd – as if we must forget the past every 4 or 8 years! Or is it just when a Dem is succeeded in the presidency by a Rep?

  13. Much of the media and Democratic activists regard it as “unacceptable.” Most of the country couldn’t care less.

    Let’s remember this moment, J.S., and this specific quote. We’ll revisit it in six months or so and let hindsight tell us whether that’s proved to be an accurate depiction of the situation.

  14. Fine with me, Waldo. I’ll be here in 6 months. BTW, is this new, new thing that’s going to be used to impeach Bush? Let’s see, there was the famous Downing Street Memo and the Valerie Plame deal, but this is the real thing, huh?

  15. The different world we are in is one that is so far and above, the most corrupt ‘administration’ in American history. Think about it.

    If you don’t understand the difference between firing all the US Attorney because the president changes, and firing only a few based on political concerns, then I don’t know what to say to you. I think sometimes you cover your ears and only that part of a debate that you want to hear, and complaining about or disregarding the rest.

    I suppose you would say that conversely, Bush has the right to not fire Gonzales, even though he is a liar?

  16. “Oh, come on fellas. Where’s your sense of humor? The door was wide open – I had to walk through it.”

    The point is that when your ONLY response is a tedious “joke,” that’s evasive. Since you can’t win this one on the merits, you keep twisting and dodging off the subject. I presented a very reasonable and direct analogy as to why an unlimited power to fire someone does not mean that it cannot be part of gross misconduct. Instead of answering this challenge, you digressed off the irrelevant particular of sexual harassment in the example. You STILL haven’t really addressed the point I made and how it completely sinks your pretense at having no idea how this could possibly be any sort of legal or moral issue.

  17. Cunningham, Ney, DeLay, Foley, Burns, Allen, Stevens…Cheney, Rove, Abramoff, Libby, Gonzales…Americans have come to understand that what the Republican party can’t lie, cheat, and steal to gain they will simply circle the wagons and obstruct. Utterly corrupt, and unable to govern after one decade in majority, they can’t afford honesty and accountability. So Americans will do it for them at the polls in 2008, just like they did in 2006. You’d think a 2×4 upside the head would have worked in 2006. Judge Smails illustrates it didn’t.

  18. Cunningham, Ney, DeLay, Foley, Burns, Allen, Stevens…Cheney, Rove, Abramoff, Libby, Gonzales…

    Hey, we’ve almost got a Billy Joel song here . . .

    C’mon, all. Smails is just one ongoing joke. If you take Clinton away from him, he’s got nothing.

  19. In any event, the whole Oxycontin lawsuit (and the hysteria leading up to it) sure could have been handled better. But it wasn’t, and the result is that an enormous number of doctors (I’m guessing the vast majority) won’t even consider prescribing the stuff, for all of the attention it apparently generates (I had at least two doctors specifically tell me that the reason they weren’t prescribing it was the trouble and paperwork it generated with the DEA (among other authorities)). Which is a shame, as it’s a drug that can work when no others will. The NYT’s hillbilly heroin obsession didn’t just sell a few more papers – it resulted in a lot less people getting the treatment they deserve.

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