One of my favorite go to sites, Propublica, has a bombshell new report out. On a Tuesday just before Halloween in 2018 a delegation of senior officials from Texas, including the US Attorney for the eastern district of Texas paid a little call on acting DEA head Uttam Dhillon. It seems that they had a little Walmart problem where the dispensing of opioids was concerned.
The first thing that they did was to lay their cards on the table. It was voluminous, and damning. They started out with reports and concerns from various Walmart pharmacists themselves;
There Rattan laid out the evidence. Opioids dispensed by Walmart pharmacies in Texas had killed customers who had overdosed. The pharmacists who dispensed those opioids had told the company they didn’t want to fill the prescriptions because they were coming from doctors who were running pill mills. They pleaded for help and guidance from Walmart’s corporate office.
Walmart pharmacists in Texas were flat out advising the corporate offices that they either suspected, or knew that large numbers of prescriptions they were filling were coming from questionable sources, and asking permission to decline to gill. And it wasn’t just in Texas either. The company was getting requests for guidance from states like Kansas, Maine, North Carolina and Washington as well as other states. Tactics and proof was provided in the complaints;
One Walmart employee warned about a Florida doctor who had a “list of patients from Kentucky that have been visiting pharmacies in all of central Wisconsin recently.” That doctor had sent patients to Walmarts in more than 30 other states.
The response from Walmart’s corporate compliance office was as predictable as the sunset. Pharmacists were forbidden to blanket refuse to fill prescriptions from any single doctor, and were told to consider individual prescriptions on a case-by-vase basis. In an internal Walmart memo obtained by prosecutors, the compliance office said that when considering opioid matters, focus should be on driving profits.
According to people who were in the room, when the prosecutors completed their presentation, Dhillon leaned back in his chair, and breathed out. Jesus Christ! Why aren’t we talking about this as a criminal complaint? And therein lay the rub. Several months earlier, Rattan had informed Walmart that they were preparing to indict the company on multiple charges of violating the Controlled Substances Act.
Walmart’s response there was just as predictable as the sunrise the next morning. Rather than try to explain themselves, or mount a defense, they immediately appealed to Trump’s Department of Justice in Washington DC, with what should be just as predictable of a result;
Before the Texas prosecutors could file their case, however, Walmart escalated concerns to high-ranking officials at the DOJ, who then intervened. Brown was ordered to stand down. On Aug. 31, 2018, Trump officials officially informed Walmart that the DOJ would decline to prosecute the company, according to a letter from Walmart’s lawyer that lays out the chronology of the case.
That’s why the Texas federal prosecutors were in Washington in the first damn place, trying desperately to resuscitate their criminal case. After the preliminary positive response from the DEA, their next stop was a conference room at Main Justice. and the indomitable Rod Rosenstein. Once again they laid out their case in meticulous detail, and assured Rosenstein that this was not a “show case” against a major US corporation, but a criminal charge based on flagrant violations of criminal law that were killing Americans. DEA administrator Dhillon, who had accompanied the group to the meeting to advocate for criminal charges, advised Rosenstein that a simple fine would not be an equitable resolution to the case. Which of course led Rosenstein to quip;
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We’re all CAPITALISTS here.
Shortly after his little thigh slapper, an aide came into the room and advised Rosenstein that he had a phone call that required his attention, and Rosenstein took his leave. The meeting continued, but the handwriting was already on the wall.
So now, the Texas US Attorney’s office is exploring other avenues, such as a civil suit. Personally, I wish that they could turn over their work product to the individual states involved, so that their Attorney’s General could pursue criminal charges on their own. But there is one thing that I would like to point out. For those among us who felt during the Mueller investigation that Rod Rosenstein was some sort of tragic-heroic figure, protecting Mueller from the forces of darkness, this should dispel that myth. This issue had nothing to do with Trump-Russia, and yet Rod Rosenstein showed himself to be every bit as craven, cowardly, and sniveling of a sycophant as everybody else Trump surrounds himself with. Don’t go looking for any heroes in that mob, because there aren’t any.
To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen[ppp_patron_only]
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.