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135Bush Sr. Threatened Lawsuit Over W's Drug Use Report

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  • Al Giordano
    Dec 25, 2000
      Bush, Sr. Threatened Lawsuit Over Drug Allegations about W.

      URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v99/n1162/a07.html

      Former President Bush has considered legal action against a
      discredited book that claimed he attempted years ago to quash a drug
      arrest of his son Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, the front-runner for
      the Republican presidential nomination. In an interview taped last
      week and aired on Fox News Sunday, the former president said he
      was "so outraged" by the allegations in the book that he consulted
      his attorney, "something I seldom do."

      The interview was apparently taped before St. Martin's Press took
      action against its book Fortunate Son: the Making of an American
      President by J.H. Hatfield.

      On Thursday, St. Martin's halted distribution of the book and on
      Friday ordered all copies to be returned so they could be destroyed.

      The publisher's action came after aides at the Bush campaign said the
      governor was seeking advice on legal moves that could be taken
      against the book. Hatfield, in a final chapter that St. Martin's said
      was added at the last minute, said that in 1972 the younger Bush was
      arrested in Harris County for possession of cocaine. He said the
      arrest was expunged after the elder Bush arranged through a friendly
      Republican judge to have his son perform public service.

      Both Bushes vehemently deny the allegation, and Hatfield's account
      has several factual problems, including that there were no Republican
      judges in Harris County in 1972 and that the law allowing arrests in
      Texas to be expunged was not enacted until later in the 1970s. Carol
      Vance, a Democrat who was district attorney in 1972, said the
      allegations are baseless.

      St. Martin's, without commenting directly on Hatfield's allegations,
      moved against the book after learning that Hatfield had been
      convicted 11 years ago of hiring a hit man in an unsuccessful car
      bombing against his boss. The elder Bush said his attorney, whom he
      did not name, made further legal inquiries, although the former
      president did not make clear if the contact was with representatives
      of the author or publisher or both. At any rate, he said: "They just
      brushed us off."

      "I may not be finished with this yet, even though I'm a public
      figure. It's outrageous," Bush said. He referred to a legal standard
      that makes it more difficult for public figures to sustain a libel
      action unless they can prove that false statements were made with
      malicious intent. Bush said the book was "a fraud and ugly." "You
      know," Bush said, "I debated whether to say anything, but frankly,
      that book accused me of being anti-Semitic. It accused me of
      obstructing the justice system by going to a judge and having a
      narcotics charge dropped and have George do community service.

      "It's a lie. It was a vicious lie. And I'll tell you, it's one of the
      things that makes a lot of people stay out of public service. Who
      wants to have books written that are totally false?"