Donziger: “Just a Bunch of Smoke and Mirrors and Bullshit”
As discussed here, one of the key arguments that the Ecuador plaintiffs are making in response to Chevron’s Motion is that the damaging quotes are being taken out of context. Without question one of the most damning excerpts is when lead plaintiffs’ lawyer Steve Donziger is quoted as saying that “Because at the end of the day, this is all for the Court just a bunch of smoke and mirrors and bullshit. It really is.”
Plaintiffs’ spokesman Karen Hinton told me this morning that Donziger’s comment about “smoke and mirrors and bullshit” was a reference to Chevron’s evidence, not their own. She is quoted in an American Lawyer article today saying the same thing, that “’He was talking about Chevron using smoke and mirrors.’ Chevron is ‘twisting it and manipulating it.'”
I have now received the transcripts of the DVD from Karen Hinton and I have posted them here and here. Read in context, I find it almost impossible to interpret Donziger’s quote about “smoke and mirrors” as a reference to Chevron’s evidence.
Here is Steve Donziger’s “smoke and mirrors and bullshit” quote included in the context of a conversation between Donziger and plaintiffs’ technical experts Dave Kamp, Ann Maest, and Charlie Champ (pages 8-11 of Transcript 2):
KAMP: Yeah. But you know. And these are all possibilities, and I think that, but what we know we don’t have is the extent of the contamination, the, the ground water auditors that Anne was talking about, maybe when you were asleep.
KAMP: and, you know, being able to characterize as well as we possibly can before we enter into, you know, a remediation strategy per se, what we know about non-water contamination the extent of the contamination. We don’t have that.
MAEST: And right now all the reports are saying it’s just at the pits and the stations and nothing has spread anywhere at all.
DONZIGER: That’s not true.
KAMP: That’s not exactly true.
DONZIGER: That’s not true. The reports are saying the ground water is contaminated because we’ve taken samples from ground water.
MAEST: That’s just right under the pits.
DONZIGER: Yeah, but, that is evidence.
KAMP: Well you need more.
CHAMP: Well one thing I visually see.
DONZIGER: I agree.
DONZIGER: Hold on a second, you know, this is Ecuador, okay,
DONZIGER: You can say whatever you want and at the end of the day, there’s a thousand people around the courthouse, you’re going to get what you want. Sorry, but it’s true.
DONZIGER: Okay. Therefore, if we take our existing evidence on groundwater contamination which admittedly is right below the source.
DONZIGER: And wanted to extrapolate based on nothing other than our, um, theory that it is, they all, we average out to going 300 meters in a radius, depending on the—the, uh…
DONZIGER: The what do you call it when the land goes down? The incline. You know what I mean,
MAEST: Uh-huh. The gradient.
DONZIGER: The gradient. We can do it.
KAMP: The gradient.
DONZIGER: We can do it. And we can get money for it.
DONZIGER: And if we had no more money to do more work, we would do that. You know what I’m saying?
DONZIGER: And it wouldn’t really matter that much.
DONZIGER: Because at the end of the day, this is all for the Court just a bunch of smoke and mirrors and bullshit. It really is. We have enough, to get money, to win. How we define what the win is—is—is—we can do it, anything we want. Now granted, I’d rather have it stronger.
DONZIGER: I want to have it stronger.
DONZIGER: We need to keep that in mind as we design this.
KAMP: We do.
CHAMP: Steven, the main thing to reminder is,
CHAMP: This is where I agree with Anne a thousand percent, there is not enough information on that ground water.
CHAMP: There’s not. I mean.
CHAMP: To even approach this—
DONZIGER: You guys conspiring against me?
So there you have it. Anyone else besides Karen Hinton want to make the argument that this is a reference to Chevron’s evidence?