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As New Lawyer, Senator Defended Big Tobacco

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The Philip Morris Company did not like to talk about what went on inside its lab in Cologne, Germany, where researchers secretly conducted experiments exploring the effects of cigarette smoking.

So when the Justice Department tried to get its hands on that research in 1996 to prove that tobacco industry executives had lied about the dangers of smoking, the company moved to fend off the effort with the help of a highly regarded young lawyer named Kirsten Rutnik.

Ms. Rutnik, who now goes by her married name, Gillibrand, threw herself into the work. She traveled to Germany at least twice, interviewing the lab’s top scientists, whose research showed a connection between smoking and cancer but was kept far from public view.

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