BLITZER: Fans of Rush Limbaugh have been tuning in for many, many years now to hear the conservative talk show host’s take on the news. These days, however, Limbaugh is often in the news himself. He’s the target now of a Florida investigation that Limbaugh supporters call a witch- hunt.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: So I need to tell you something.
BLITZER (voice-over): When Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience he had become addicted to prescription painkillers, it came as a shock to millions of loyal listeners.
It was even more shocking when Florida prosecutors suggested Limbaugh may have committed a felony by visiting several doctors get duplicate prescriptions of a controlled narcotic. Responding to a public records request from the media, prosecutors released letters suggesting Limbaugh’s lawyers had approached them seeking a way to keep their client out of court. According to those letters, Limbaugh’s lawyers wanted an agreement under which Limbaugh would enter a drug treatment program without having to plead guilty to anything. But prosecutors rejected that option. Both Limbaugh and his attorney, Roy Black, deny that Limbaugh engaged in doctor shopping. And even though prosecutors claim there’s evidence to support in excess of 10 felony counts, no charges have been filed so far.
Black accused the prosecutors of running a smear campaign against his client. And he’s angry about the decision to release the letters.
BLITZER: And Roy Black is joining us now live from Miami.
Roy, thanks very much for joining us.
ROY BLACK, ATTORNEY FOR RUSH LIMBAUGH: Well, thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Where does the case stand right now, the prosecution case? No charges have been filed.
BLACK: No, but let me give you a little background, because I think a lot of people are confused what’s been happening here.
This whole thing started with an article in a tabloid newspaper. I went and talked to the prosecutor, who said, look, we understand the situation. We have no interest in prosecuting Rush Limbaugh, because we know he had a dependency on medication. But soon thereafter, you had all these stories in the press that he’s part of a drug ring. Then, it went to money laundering. Then, it went to doctor shopping.
And we never said a word while this was going on, because I would talk to the prosecutors and say, what’s going on? They say, that’s not us. Then we get called by a reporter that says, well, Rush Limbaugh’s going to plead guilty to doctor shopping, according to the state’s attorney’s office. I said, that’s an outright law. And I asked, where did that come from? And it comes from the spokesperson of the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office.
Once that happened and we saw that these people were not going to treat us fairly, we went public with our side of that. And we didn’t go public with this until they went that far. And this whole case, this investigation has been so one-sided and unfair. It’s the worst I’ve seen in my career.
BLITZER: You know, Roy, Mike Edmondson, who is the spokesman for the Palm Beach state attorney’s office, he gave us a statement. He said: “His principle criticism,” referring to you, “all along has been that there have been leaks. In reality, the only person speaking in a forum has been him or his client.”
That’s what Mike Edmondson says.
BLACK: Well, that’s exactly why I wanted to give you the background. We never said a word all the way through this, even though they went into drug trafficking, money laundering, doctor shopping, until Edmondson called “The Palm Beach Post” and told them, the next headline the next morning is going to be: Rush Limbaugh pleading guilty. And we found out it came from Edmondson. Until that happened, we never said a word.
But I’ll tell you what. No one is going to sit back and have those kind of things and those false accusations made without having a response. Certainly, I’m not going to and neither is Rush Limbaugh.
BLITZER: He also says this — and I’ll put it up on the screen, Roy, so can you respond to this, Mike Edmondson from the Palm Beach state attorney’s office: “He always makes this out to be a partisan witch-hunt and calls the state attorney a Democrat. The prosecutor that brought the case forward is a Republican. And most of the investigative team are Republican as well.”
You want to respond to that?
BLACK: You know, that’s really interesting.
I’ve never once stated a single time that Barry Krischer is a Democrat and that’s why this is being done. I’ve never brought politics into it. However, that office, by the way they’re saying it now, has done it here. And they also did the same thing when they got into a fight with the attorney general. It turns out they had lied about the advice given to them by the attorney general about releasing those letters.
And then, when they were called on it, what was their response? Well, the attorney general is a Republican, and, therefore, it’s a political matter, and that’s why it’s happening. They’re the ones who keep raising politics.
BLITZER: The point, though, is that they’re suggesting — at least the suggestion is that Rush Limbaugh was going out, speaking to different doctors, at least four different doctors, to get multiple prescriptions for painkillers. And they say, since 2002, in Florida, that’s a potential felony and that, if they didn’t pursue the suspicion, they would be giving Rush Limbaugh special treatment.
BLACK: Well, they’re certainly giving him special treatment.
By the way, if you notice, anybody else who has ever had a prescription drug problem because of pain medication or what have you has never been prosecuted. They always go into a rehabilitation program and that resolves the matter. It’s happened in this state thousands of times. The only time it doesn’t happen is with Rush Limbaugh.
Now, answering the doctor shopping, there are four doctors involved. Two of them are partners together, so you could hardly shop between the two of them. And they treat pain and intractable pain, which Rush suffers because of his back problems. A third doctor happens to do his cochlear implant in his head out in Los Angeles. I can’t imagine somebody goes all the way to Los Angeles to have major surgery in order to get a prescription.
So, for doctor shopping, you have people who go to doctors without medical purpose to get drugs to either use them or resell them. That’s totally false in this case. Every single doctor was seen for a legitimate purpose, and it cannot be doctor shopping.
BLITZER: So, is there any other charge? If you can have a good defense on the doctor charge allegation, is there anything they have suggested to you that they’re investigating right now, any other alleged criminal activity on the part of Rush Limbaugh?
BLACK: Well, what happens — when I went to see them, they first told me, we have no interest in him. We know of his dependency and we don’t prosecute people for that.
Then, there was the avalanche of letters and e-mails from people in Palm Beach County who don’t like Rush Limbaugh, saying he ought to be prosecuted. The next time I talked to them, they said, look, because of that, we have to prosecute him for something. Now that they’ve gone through drug trafficking, money laundering, doctor shopping, the next is going to be jaywalking with intent, probably somewhere in Palm Beach.
They are going to try to do something, whether it has any evidence to it or not.
BLITZER: But if they don’t have the evidence, they would look very, very foolish coming up against a high-powered attorney like you, a criminal defense attorney, if they didn’t have anything on him.
BLACK: Well, I would agree with you normally, but look at what happens here.
They went into the medical records and violated the law doing that. Then they released these letters. And then, when they released the letters, they know committing — they’re doing something that’s wrong, so they put on their cover letter, well, we talked to the Florida Bar and the attorney general, who said it would be unethical not to release them. The bar and the attorney general immediately say that that is false, we never said anything like that.
So they don’t care what the rules are. They don’t care what the attorney general says or what the bar says. They’re going to go ahead with whatever they want to do, whether they have the evidence or not.
BLITZER: There were documents, though, released, letters that were exchanged, made public — whether or not that was right or wrong is a separate issue — that suggested you initiated some sort of a plea bargain deal, some sort of arrangement that you wanted to get Rush Limbaugh off the hook. Give us your perspective on precisely what you did?
BLACK: Yes, sir, I’m glad that you asked that question, because, No. 1, this was not plea bargaining. We never at any time said Rush Limbaugh would plead guilty to an offense, because he has not committed a crime in the state of Florida. What we told them is that Rush has admitted he had a dependency on prescription pain medication because of the years of pain he suffered from his back problems and others. He went into rehabilitation.
We said, in every other case — and you see dozens upon dozens of celebrities where this happened, where they admit to a prescription pain medication problem. Going into rehabilitation and solving their problem is what most people want and all prosecutors go along with, until you get to this case.
So I wrote them a letter saying, why don’t you treat Rush like you treat everybody else? Let him go into rehabilitation. You can monitor it. He’s having the follow-through. He has his own personal physicians. You can do drug testing, whatever else you would want. Treat him the same as everybody else. But, no, they send a response back saying, no, we’re demanding guilty pleas and want to go into doctor shopping.
And then they leaked it all to the newspaper. And then afterwards, as part of the smear campaign, they release all these letters. It’s all one campaign to try to discredit him because they’re treating him differently than anybody else.
BLITZER: One final question, Roy, before I let you go.
BLACK: Yes, sir.
BLITZER: How is he dealing with the addiction? How is Rush feeling?
BLACK: well, this was not an easy situation for Rush, as you can imagine.
For years, he suffered from chronic and intractable pain, particularly out of his spine and even had his coccyx bone removed, had shots in his spine. Nothing would work. Surgery didn’t work. So, he had to use medication. And there are millions upon millions of people in this country who have the same thing. Pain is a disease like any other disease, and you ought to be treated for it.
And, by the way, we don’t blame diabetics for using insulin and say they’re addicts because they take insulin to survive. It’s the same thing with people suffering from pain. But now he has gone through rehabilitation. He has other types of medication that are not as strong or not the same types of medication as before. He’s living his life day by day. He’s trying to and hoping that this will be over soon. But this has been a tremendous stress on him, as you can imagine.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Roy Black, for joining us.
BLACK: Well, thank you, Wolf, for inviting me.
BLITZER: We’ll continue this conversation down the road.