Mitch McConnell will stop at nothing to regain Senate majority

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Sunday airwaves to pat himself on the back for getting Ukraine aid passed, and promptly reverted back to his old ways. Bipartisanship is in the rear view mirror now and McConnell is still intent on the GOP winning at all costs, no matter what damage is done to the country.

In lengthy interviews on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS’s “Face the Nation,” McConnell dodged the most critical issues of the day in furtherance of his primary goal. 

“I think the single most important thing I can do is make sure my successor is the majority leader, no matter how the presidential election comes out,” he told CBS’s Margaret Brennan. "What I want to do and what I'm focused on is not the presidential race, but getting the Senate back. I've been the majority leader, I've been the minority leader. Majority is better."

McConnell said he intends to "get ready for the challenges that we have ahead of us, rather than just looking backward." The nation’s biggest challenge ahead is Donald Trump and his threat to democracy, and that’s what McConnell is refusing to look back on.

When asked about Trump’s claims of immunity from prosecution, McConnell insisted he “stands by what he said” after Jan. 6, namely that “[t]here is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of [Jan. 6]” and the attack on the Capitol “was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.” 

That faux-righteous diatribe came after McConnell voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment, the one fail-safe opportunity he and his fellow senators had to ensure Trump could never run for office again. He failed then, just like he failed when he gave Trump his endorsement earlier this year. Now he insists that he has to support Trump, telling Brennan “[a]s the Republican leader of the Senate, obviously, I’m gonna support the nominee of our party.” 

And that support doesn’t even really mean anything, he claimed. 

“The issue is, what kind of influence, even if I had chosen to get involved in the presidential election, what kind of influence would I have had?” McConnell mused.

He had enough influence to make sure Trump would not be barred from running again. On top of that, the Supreme Court McConnell stole for Trump seems intent on clearing Trump’s path back to the White House.

Saving democracy wasn’t the only big issue McConnell tried to dodge on Sunday. NBC’s Kristen Welker asked him whether he supports a national abortion ban, and he refused to answer. 

“I don’t think we’ll get 60 votes in the Senate for any kind of national legislation,” McConnell said, not-so-deftly avoiding the question. 

He deflected instead, using the standard GOP rationalization.

“It seems to me views about this issue at the state level vary depending where you are. And we get elected by states,” McConnell said. “And my members are smart enough to figure out how they want to deal with this very divisive issue based upon the people who actually send them here.” 

Welker pushed McConnell, asking him to explain his celebratory remarks in 2022, after the Supreme Court he built overturned Roe v. Wade and he said a “national ban is possible.” Now that the political blowback of that decision has hit Republicans hard when it comes to election results, McConnell once again obfuscated. 

“I said it was possible. I didn’t say that was my view,” he claimed. “I just said it was possible.”

Once again, McConnell’s eye is on that ultimate prize of a Republican Senate majority, no matter what he has to do or lie about. If reclaiming that majority means a second term for Trump, so be it.

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What to know in the Supreme Court case about immunity for Donald Trump

The Supreme Court has scheduled a special session to hear arguments over whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted over his efforts to undo his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

The case, to be argued Thursday, stems from Trump's attempts to have charges against him dismissed. Lower courts have found he cannot claim for actions that, prosecutors say, illegally sought to interfere with the election results.

The Republican ex-president has been charged in federal court in Washington with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, one of four criminal cases he is facing. A trial has begun in New York over hush money payments to a porn star to cover up an alleged sexual encounter.

The Supreme Court is moving faster than usual in taking up the case, though not as quickly as special counsel Jack Smith wanted, raising questions about whether there will be time to hold a trial before the November election, if the justices agree with lower courts that Trump can be prosecuted.

The justices ruled earlier this term in another case that arose from Trump's actions following the election, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The court unanimously held that states could not invoke a provision of the 14th Amendment known as the insurrection clause to prevent Trump from appearing on presidential ballots.

Here are some things to know:


When the justices agreed on Feb. 28 to hear the case, they put the issue this way: “Whether and if so to what extent does a former President enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.”

That's a question the Supreme Court has never had to answer. Never before has a former president faced criminal charges so the court hasn't had occasion to take up the question of whether the president's unique role means he should be shielded from prosecution, even after he has left office.

Both sides point to the absence of previous prosecutions to undergird their arguments. Trump's lawyers told the court that presidents would lose their independence and be unable to function in office if they knew their actions in office could lead to criminal charges once their terms were over. Smith's team wrote that the lack of previous criminal charges “underscores the unprecedented nature” of what Trump is accused of.


Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace nearly 50 years ago rather than face impeachment by the House of Representatives and removal from office by the Senate in the Watergate scandal.

Both Trump's lawyers and Smith's team are invoking Nixon at the Supreme Court.

Trump's team cites Nixon v. Fitzgerald, a 1982 case in which the Supreme Court held by a 5-4 vote that former presidents cannot be sued in civil cases for their actions while in office. The case grew out of the firing of a civilian Air Force analyst who testified before Congress about cost overruns in the production of the C-5A transport plane.

“In view of the special nature of the President's constitutional office and functions, we think it appropriate to recognize absolute Presidential immunity from damages liability for acts within the ‘outer perimeter’ of his official responsibility,” Justice Lewis Powell wrote for the court.

But that decision recognized a difference between civil lawsuits and “the far weightier" enforcement of federal criminal laws, Smith's team told the court. They also invoked the high court decision that forced Nixon to turn over incriminating White House tapes for use in the prosecutions of his top aides.

And prosecutors also pointed to President Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon, and Nixon's acceptance of it, as resting “on the understanding that the former President faced potential criminal liability.”


The subtext of the immunity fight is about timing. Trump has sought to push back the trial until after the election, when, if he were to regain the presidency, he could order the Justice Department to drop the case. Prosecutors have been pressing for a quick decision from the Supreme Court so that the clock can restart on trial preparations. It could take three months once the court acts before a trial actually starts.

If the court hands down its decision in late June, which would be the typical timeframe for a case argued so late in the court's term, there might not be enough time to start the trial before the election.


Trump is represented by D. John Sauer, a former Rhodes Scholar and Supreme Court clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia. While serving as Missouri’s solicitor general, Sauer won the only Supreme Court case he has argued until now, a 5-4 decision in an execution case. Sauer also filed legal briefs asking the Supreme Court to repudiate Biden's victory in 2020.

In addition to working for Scalia early in his legal career, Sauer also served as a law clerk to Michael Luttig when he was a Republican-appointed judge on the Richmond, Virginia-based federal appeals court. Luttig joined with other former government officials on a brief urging the Supreme Court to allow the prosecution to proceed. Luttig also advised Vice President Mike Pence not to succumb to pressure from Trump to reject some electoral votes, part of Trump's last-ditch plan to remain in office.

The justices are quite familiar with Sauer’s opponent, Michael Dreeben. As a longtime Justice Department official, Dreeben argued more than 100 cases at the court, many of them related to criminal law. Dreeben was part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and joined Smith's team last year after a stint in private practice.

In Dreeben's very first Supreme Court case 35 years ago, he faced off against Chief Justice John Roberts, then a lawyer in private practice.


Of the nine justices hearing the case, three were nominated by Trump — Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. But it's the presence of a justice confirmed decades before Trump's presidency, Justice Clarence Thomas, that's generated the most controversy.

Thomas's wife, Ginni Thomas, urged the reversal of the 2020 election results and then attended the rally that preceded the Capitol riot. That has prompted calls for the justice to step aside from several court cases involving Trump and Jan. 6.

But Thomas has ignored the calls, taking part in the unanimous court decision that found states cannot kick Trump off the ballot as well as last week's arguments over whether prosecutors can use a particular obstruction charge against Capitol riot defendants. Trump faces the same charge in special counsel Jack Smith's prosecution in Washington.

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Judges express skepticism of Trump claims that he’s immune from prosecution

With Donald Trump listening intently in the courtroom, federal appeals court judges in Washington expressed deep skepticism Tuesday that the former president was immune from prosecution on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The panel of three judges, two of whom were appointed by President Joe Biden, also questioned whether they had jurisdiction to consider the appeal at this point in the case, raising the prospect that Trump's appeal could be dispensed with on more procedural grounds.

During lengthy arguments, the judges repeatedly pressed Trump's lawyer to defend claims that Trump was shielded from criminal charges for acts that he says fell within his official duties as president. That argument was rejected last month by the lower-court judge overseeing the case against Trump, and the appeals judges suggested through their questions that they, too, were dubious that the Founding Fathers envisioned absolute immunity for presidents after they leave office.

“I think it’s paradoxical to say that his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed allows him to violate criminal law," said Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, an appointee of former President George H.W. Bush.

The outcome could carry enormous ramifications both for the landmark criminal case against Trump and for the broader, and legally untested, question of whether an ex-president can be prosecuted for actions taken in the White House. It will also likely set the stage for further appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court, which last month declined a request to weigh in but could still get involved later.

A swift decision is crucial for special counsel Jack Smith and his team, who are eager to get the case — now paused pending the appeal — to trial before the November election. But Trump’s lawyers, in addition to seeking to get the case dismissed, are hoping to benefit from a protracted appeals process that could delay the trial well past its scheduled March 4 start date, including until potentially after the election.

Underscoring the importance to both sides, Trump, the 2024 Republican presidential primary front-runner, attended Tuesday’s arguments even though the Iowa caucuses are just one week away and despite the fact that there’s no requirement that defendants appear in person for such proceedings. Making his first court appearance in Washington since his arraignment in August, Trump sat at the defense table, watching closely and occasionally taking notes and speaking with his lawyers.

His appearance and his comments afterward underscored his broader effort to portray himself as the victim of a justice system he claims is politicized. Though there’s no evidence Biden has had any influence on the case, Trump’s argument could resonate with Republican voters in Iowa as they prepare to launch the presidential nomination process.

After the hearing, Trump spoke to reporters at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel, which used to be the Trump International Hotel, calling Tuesday “a very momentous day.” He insisted he did nothing wrong and claimed he was being prosecuted for political reasons.

“A president has to have immunity,” he said.

Former presidents enjoy broad immunity from lawsuits for actions taken as part of their official White House duties. But because no former president before Trump has ever been indicted, courts have never before addressed whether that protection extends to criminal prosecution.

Trump’s lawyers insist that it does, arguing that courts have no authority to scrutinize a president’s official acts and that the prosecution of their client represents a dramatic departure from more than two centuries of American history that would open the door to future politically motivated cases.

“To authorize the prosecution of a president for official acts would open a Pandora’s box from which this nation may never recover,” said D. John Sauer, a lawyer for Trump, asserting that, under the government's theory, presidents could be prosecuted for giving Congress “false information” to enter war or for authorizing drone strikes targeting U.S. citizens abroad.

He later added, “If a president has to look over his shoulder or her shoulder every time he or she has to make a controversial decision and wonder if ‘after I leave office, am I going to jail for this when my political opponents take power?’ that inevitably dampens the ability of the president.”

But the judges were skeptical about those arguments. Judges Henderson and Florence Pan noted the lawyer who represented Trump during his 2021 impeachment trial suggested that he could later face criminal prosecution, telling senators at the time: “We have a judicial process in this country. We have an investigative process in this country to which no former office holder is immune.”

“It seems that many senators relied on that in voting to acquit” Trump, Pan told Sauer.

Judge J. Michelle Childs also questioned why former President Richard Nixon would need to be granted a pardon in 1974 after the Watergate scandal if former presidents enjoy immunity from prosecution. Sauer replied that in Nixon's case, the conduct did not involve the same kind of “official acts” Trump's lawyers argue form the basis of his indictment.

Aside from the merits of the immunity claim, the judges jumped right into questioning Trump’s lawyer over whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the appeal at this time. Sauer said presidential immunity is clearly a claim that is meant to be reviewed before trial. Smith's team also said that it wants the court to decide the appeal now.

Smith's team maintains that presidents are not entitled to absolute immunity and that, in any event, the acts Trump is alleged in the indictment to have taken — including scheming to enlist fake electors in battleground states won by Biden and pressing his vice president, Mike Pence, to reject the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021 — fall outside a president's official job duties.

“The president has a unique constitutional role but he is not above the law. Separation of powers principles, constitutional text, history, precedent and immunity doctrines all point to the conclusion that a former president enjoys no immunity from prosecution,” prosecutor James Pearce said, adding that a case in which a former president is alleged to have sought to overturn an election “is not the place to recognize some novel form of immunity.”

When Judge Henderson asked how the court could write its opinion in a way that wouldn't open the “floodgates” of investigations against ex-presidents, Pearce said he did not anticipate “a sea change of vindictive tit-for-tat prosecutions in the future.” He called the allegations against Trump fundamentally unprecedented.

“Never before has there been allegations that a sitting president has, with private individuals and using the levers of power, sought to fundamentally subvert the democratic republic and the electoral system," he said. "And frankly, if that kind of fact pattern arises again, I think it would be awfully scary if there weren’t some sort of mechanism by which to reach that criminally.”

It's not clear how quickly the panel from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from the D.C. Circuit will rule, though it has signaled that it intends to work quickly.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected the immunity arguments, ruling last month that the office of the presidency does not confer a “‘get-out-of-jail-free'" pass. Trump's lawyers appealed that decision, but Smith's team, determined to keep the case on schedule, sought to leapfrog the appeals court by asking the Supreme Court to fast-track the immunity question. The justices declined to get involved.

The appeal is vital to a Trump strategy of trying to postpone the case until after the November election, when a victory could empower him to order the Justice Department to abandon the prosecution or even to seek a pardon for himself. He faces three other criminal cases, in state and federal court, though the Washington case is scheduled for trial first.

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GOP wants to impeach Maine secretary who cut Trump from ballot. It won’t be easy

Republicans who want to unseat Maine's secretary of state for barring former President Donald Trump from the primary ballot will face long odds impeaching a stalwart and influential Democrat whose party holds firm control over both Legislative chambers.

Shenna Bellows is the first secretary of state in history to block someone from running for president by using the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause. Trump, the early front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, appealed the decision on Tuesday and is expected to soon appeal a similar ban by the Colorado Supreme Court.

As Maine lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Wednesday to begin this year's legislative session, retribution against Bellows was among the first orders of business for many Republicans. They filed an order of impeachment against her, called for her to resign and encouraged legislators to vote her out of office.

“The secretary of state has jumped in way over her boots on this one,” said Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, the House Republican leader.

Bellows was elected secretary of state three years ago by the Maine Legislature, and Democrats have since maintained a solid majority in both houses, meaning there's little chance those same legislators would reverse course and oust her. Bellows said Wednesday she stands by her decision to unliterally remove Trump from the state's ballot, and isn't fazed by the calls for removal.

“This is little more than political theater produced by those who disagree with my decision,” Bellows said. “I had a duty to uphold the laws and the Constitution and that's what I did. And what I will continue to do — to serve the people of Maine.”

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office. Some legal scholars say the post-Civil War clause applies to Trump for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election and encouraging his backers to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

However, several high-ranking Maine Republicans say they feel Bellows' action was a partisan one, and betrayed the confidence of Maine's people.

Faulkingham said during a news conference that Bellows’ decision “threatens to throw our country into chaos” by encouraging other secretaries to make arbitrary decisions about ballot access. Rep. John Andrews filed an impeachment order that he said will be on the legislative calendar next Tuesday or Thursday, and Rep. Shelley Rudnicki said on the House floor that Bellows' “behavior is unacceptable for a secretary of state” and she should resign.

Bellows, Maine's 50th secretary of state and the first woman to hold the office, ascended to the role in January 2021. She had a long history in Maine politics and liberal advocacy before that.

She grew up in rural Hancock before attending Middlebury College, and served as a Democratic state senator from 2016 to 2020. Prior to that, in 2014, she ran an unsuccessful campaign against longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins that resulted in a fairly easy win for the incumbent, but increased Bellow's name recognition.

She was also the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine from 2005 to 2013 and worked on drives to legalize same-sex marriage, same-day voter registration and ranked choice voting — all of which were ultimately successful.

A fake emergency phone call led to police responding to Bellows' home last week, the day after she removed Trump from the ballot. Democrats and Republicans in the state widely condemned the call, known as “swatting.” Bellows said she, her family and her staff have been the target of more harassment this week.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said via a spokesperson Wednesday that the efforts to impeach Bellows are “unjustified.” Mills also believes the question of whether Trump violated the 14th amendment must be answered by courts.

“Without a judicial determination on that question, she believes that the decision of whether the former President should be considered for the presidency belongs in the hands of the people,” wrote the spokesperson, Ben Goodman.

The Maine Democratic Party asserted that decisions about ballot access are part of Bellows' duties as secretary of state.

Trump appealed Bellows' decision to a Maine Superior Court. The Colorado Supreme Court also found Trump ineligible for the presidency, and that decision has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bellows said Wednesday that, “Should the Supreme Court of the United States make a decision that applies to the whole country, I would absolutely uphold it.”

While Maine has just four electoral votes, it’s one of two states to split them. Trump won one of Maine’s electors in 2020, so having him off the ballot there, should he emerge as the Republican general election candidate, could have outsized implications in a race that is expected to be narrowly decided.

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Supreme Court refuses to rule quickly on whether Trump can be prosecuted

The Supreme Court said Friday that it will not immediately take up a plea by special counsel Jack Smith to rule on whether former President Donald Trump can be prosecuted for his actions to overturn the 2020 election results.

The issue will now be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has signaled it will act quickly to decide the case. Special counsel Jack Smith had cautioned that even a rapid appellate decision might not get to the Supreme Court in time for review and final word before the court’s traditional summer break.

Smith had pressed the Supreme Court to intervene over concerns that the legal fight over the issue could delay the start of Trump’s trial, now scheduled for March 4, beyond next year’s presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has put the case on hold while Trump pursues his claim in higher courts that he is immune from prosecution. Chutkan raised the possibility of keeping the March date if the case promptly returns to her court.

She already has rejected the Trump team’s arguments that an ex-president could not be prosecuted over acts that fall within the official duties of the job.

“Former presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability,” Chutkan wrote in her Dec. 1 ruling. “Defendant may be subject to federal investigation, indictment, prosecution, conviction, and punishment for any criminal acts undertaken while in office.”

The Supreme Court separately has agreed to hear a case over the charge of obstruction of an official proceeding that has been brought against Trump as well as more than 300 of his supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In the immunity case, Smith had tried to persuade the justices to take up the matter directly, bypassing the appeals court.

“This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: whether a former president is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution when he has been impeached but not convicted before the criminal proceedings begin,” prosecutors wrote.

Underscoring the urgency for prosecutors in securing a quick resolution that can push the case forward, Smith and his team wrote: “It is of imperative public importance that respondent’s claims of immunity be resolved by this Court and that respondent’s trial proceed as promptly as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected.”

Justice Department policy prohibits the indictment of a sitting president. Though there’s no such bar against prosecution for a former commander in chief, lawyers for Trump say that he cannot be charged for actions that fell within his official duties as president — a claim that prosecutors have vigorously rejected.

Trump faces charges accusing him of working to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden before the violent riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The high court still could act quickly once the appeals court issues its decision. A Supreme Court case usually lasts several months, but on rare occasions, the justices shift into high gear.

Nearly 50 years ago, the justices acted within two months of being asked to force President Richard Nixon to turn over Oval Office recordings in the Watergate scandal. The tapes were then used later in 1974 in the corruption prosecutions of Nixon’s former aides.

It took the high court just a few days to effectively decide the 2000 presidential election for Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore.

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Clarence Thomas is the undisputed king of SCOTUS grift

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the gods’ gift to investigative reporters. The man has apparently not paid for a goddamned thing in his life since Ronald Reagan installed him in his first powerful government position. His grift goes so deep, according to a new report in from The Guardian, that his powerful network of former clerks had to pay for the privilege of attending his Christmas party.

According to Venmo records reviewed by The Guardian, several former clerks who are now powerful attorneys sent payments to Thomas’s aide, Rajan Vasisht, who was in the job from July 2019 to July 2021 for a 2019 Christmas bash with the justice. The amount of money each sent to Vasisht’s Venmo account wasn’t disclosed, “but the purpose of each payment is listed as either ‘Christmas party’, ‘Thomas Christmas Party’, ‘CT Christmas Party’ or ‘CT Xmas party’, in an apparent reference to the justice’s initials.” Given that Vasisht was Thomas’ aide, scheduling his personal and official calendar and handling his correspondence, there’s no other reason for these high-powered Washington, D.C., lawyers to be sending him money.

Among those who sent money is Patrick Strawbridge, a partner at Consovoy McCarthy, who just secured a big win at the Supreme Court representing the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions in its suit against the University of North Carolina. He has also worked for the Trump Organization, the Trump family, and Donald Trump, including representing Trump in his failed bid to keep his tax returns from becoming public—his first oral argument before the court. He clerked for Thomas in 2008-2009.

The Consovoy in Stawbridge’s firm is Will Consovoy, who was a fellow Thomas clerk in the same term. Consovoy also worked for Trump, trying to shield his tax records from then-Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. Consovoy was originally lead counsel in the case overturning affirmative action, but withdrew from oral arguments at the court when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died earlier this year.

Other former Thomas clerks who sent party money include:

Kate Todd, who served as White House deputy counsel under Donald Trump at the time of the payment and is now a managing party of Ellis George Cipollone’s law office; Elbert Lin, the former solicitor general of West Virginia who played a key role in a supreme court case that limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions; and Brian Schmalzbach, a partner at McGuire Woods who has argued multiple cases before the supreme court.

Most of Thomas’ former clerks have landed in extremely influential positions thanks to their association with Thomas, and of course the Federal Society that helped them get where they are now. A raft of them—about two dozen—ended up with Trump-appointed jobs, either in the administration or in the federal judiciary. In private practice, former Thomas clerks end up in the vast right-wing network of firms that help dark money groups manufacture court cases to do things like overturn decades of precedent in abortion protections, affirmative action, environmental regulation, etc. The Thomas alum are with firms that regularly go before the court and in judgeships on the lower courts, where they can help tee up cases to go to SCOTUS. It’s a right-wing judicial swamp.

Thomas has bragged about how he has the most diverse clerks from all backgrounds. “They are male, they are female, they are black, they’re white, they’re from the West, they’re from the South, they’re from public schools, they’re from public universities, they’re from poor families, they’re from sharecroppers, they’re from all over,” he said in 2017 while talking to students at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Thomas’ wife Ginni has also written about how the former clerks are like extended family and she’s the “den mother” to the group. She’s organized big reunions (which the clerks probably ended up paying for) and coordinated them all on Facebook. That ended up extending into soliciting their help with the insurrection, for which she had to apologize. Not that there weren’t insurrectionists in the group: John Eastman is among them. He’s facing potential disbarment in California for his part in the attempted coup, and because he has “repeatedly breached professional ethics.” It’s noteworthy Eastman’s “family” from his days clerking for Judge J. Michael Lutting in the mid-1990s included 2020 elector objector Ted Cruz, one of the only senators to back the 2020 scheme.

Whether the powerful, well-connected group of lawyers who paid for Thomas’ Christmas party breached those professional ethics is murky at this point. Kedric Payne, the general counsel and senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center, told The Guardian that it is possible that this was simply a pay-your-own-way kind of Christmas party rather than them paying Thomas’ expenses. That would be different from a scheme of lawyers paying for access to a Supreme Court justice. “But the point remains that the public is owed an explanation so they don’t have to speculate.”

Yes, we are owed that explanation, and it’s not likely to be forthcoming. At the heart of this is Thomas’ unbounded propensity for grift, his never-ending grudge against everything, and his sense of entitlement—you see, he’s owed the lavish lifestyle his “friends” have provided him. If that includes making his extended “family” of clerks—more like a crime family—pay for the Christmas party he is hosting for them, so be it. He actually has a lot in common with Trump, doesn’t he?

This is precisely what the founders created impeachment for: Clarence Thomas. It is definitely time for Democrats to draw up those impeachment charges, even though it’s not going to happen. It can’t happen because Republicans are just as corrupt as he is. They aren’t going to let a little corruption between friends stand in the way of overturning progress case by case. But by keeping his scandals front and center, Democrats can make Republicans own him and his corruption.

The only solution to the problem of Thomas is a political one: Beat the Republicans and fix this. That means expanding the court to nullify his presence and ending lifetime appointments to the court so the likes of Thomas can’t happen again.

‘Red flags’ were raised over Clarence Thomas disclosures going back to 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been thumbing his nose at his colleagues, the Senate, and the nation since at least 2011. Back then, watchdogs discovered he had not disclosed household income from his wife, Ginni Thomas—at least five years’ worth of income from her partisan political work the Heritage Foundation and the Tea Party astroturf group she founded. Thomas belatedly filed 20 years’ worth of amended disclosure forms, and then did not change his nondisclosing ways.

There aren’t many ethics rules Supreme Court justices have to observe, but there is a federal law they are bound by: the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. That law applies to the chief justice of the Supreme Court and all the associate justices, along with most other high-level government officials and employees and, in some cases, the spouses and dependent children of those officials, too. Thomas has not abided by that law and has not done so for years.

In 2012, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf “raised red flags” over the review conducted under the auspices of the Judicial Conference of the United States, Bloomberg News reports based on newly disclosed information. Wolf “repeatedly expressed concern” that the committee assigned to investigate Thomas didn’t disclose its findings and actions to leaders of the conference, the federal judiciary’s policymaking body. The committee independently determined that Thomas had not “willfully” failed to comply, and that his omission of 20 years’ worth of household income in the hundreds of thousands of dollars was a “routine” matter.

Wolf raised enough hell about having been kept in the dark on the matter that the conference did adopt a small change: The committee that looks into disclosure problems has to report to the full conference about them. What the Judicial Conference—comprising the Supreme Court chief, the chiefs of all the judicial circuits, and a district judge from each regional circuit—decides to do with the information is up to them.

Since well before 2011, Thomas has been in the pocket of Texas billionaire Harlan Crow and failed to disclose everything from that relationship including expensive gifts, luxurious travel, profitable real estate deals, and private school tuition for the nephew he was raising as a son. Thomas kept on not disclosing, which is all the evidence needed to surmise that what the Judicial Conference headed up by Chief Justice John Roberts decided to do about it was nothing.

That’s not to say Thomas and pals learned nothing from the experience. His friend Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society founder and dark money maven who has reshaped the federal judiciary, learned that it was better to leave Ginni’s name off of payments for her extreme partisan work. “No mention of Ginni, of course,” Leo instructed when he was arranging for her payment through a third party. If her name isn’t on any of the paperwork, then what would her husband have to disclose?

It’s not just financial disclosures, by the way, where Thomas has failed in any semblance of ethical behavior. He never recused himself from any of the cases before the court that involved Ginni’s political activities. He has recused in other cases involving his son and his employers, so it’s not a matter of Thomas misunderstanding what’s supposed to be done. Thomas is holding himself above those requirements.

He’ll continue to do so as long as Roberts—along with the rest of the court—looks the other way. That’s exactly what Roberts intends to do. He made that clear via his refusal to even talk to Congress about ethics in the court. Because he can get away with it, Thomas will remain defiant, continue to decide cases he shouldn’t be active on, and will probably continue to enjoy the largesse Crow has on offer.

He won’t resign, and as long as the House is in Republican control (and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell draws breath in the Senate) Thomas can’t be impeached, even while he’s a textbook case for impeachment.

Thomas and the whole court are declaring themselves above the law. The only recourse Democrats have in this situation is political. They’ve got to keep Thomas’ corruption—enabled by Republicans—in focus. Democrats must keep having hearings about court reform, they must keep investigating those gifts, and they must keep talking about how every extreme, unpopular partisan decision is brought to you by Republicans.


Were billionaire's gifts to Thomas taxable? Sen. Wyden wants to know

Clarence Thomas allegedly broke one of the few ethics laws that apply to the Supreme Court

Republicans happy to look the other way on Supreme Court ethics lapses

Dimitri of WarTranslated has been doing the essential work of translating hours of Russian and Ukrainian video and audio during the invasion of Ukraine. He joins Markos and Kerry from London to talk about how he began this work by sifting through various sources. He is one of the only people translating information for English-speaking audiences. Dimitri’s followed the war since the beginning and has watched the evolution of the language and dispatches as the war has progressed.

Ted Cruz Takes a Sledgehammer to Democrats Calling For Clarence Thomas to Resign: They ‘Hate’ Him Because He’s Black

Senator Ed Markey reiterated calls for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign in a social media posting on Tuesday.

The short tweet reads, “Clarence Thomas must resign.”

Markey (D-MA) is likely the highest-ranking Democrat to date calling for Thomas’ resignation. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been very vocal in the past about demanding his ouster, along with a handful of other House members.

The controversy stems from a recent report by the left-leaning outlet Pro Publica alleging billionaire Harlan Crow, a GOP donor, provided trips and gifts to Thomas that were not disclosed.

Following the allegations of impropriety, Thomas explained accurately that the gifts in question were from close personal friends and, as they “did not have business before the Court” it “was not reportable.”

He said he would amend his financial disclosure forms to comply with changes made to disclosure rules that were announced last month.

Markey’s calls for his resignation began last week when he declared the hit job against Thomas was evidence that the Supreme Court Justice’s “reputation is unsalvageable.”

RELATED: Chief Justice John Roberts Tells Democrats to Get Lost After They Request He Testify on Supreme Court Ethics

Ted Cruz Reveals Why Democrats REALLY Want Clarence Thomas to Resign

Senator Ted Cruz, speaking during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court Ethics Reform on Tuesday, absolutely tore apart the Democrats’ argument suggesting Clarence Thomas should resign.

“Senate Democrats and their lap dogs in the media are engaged in a two-fold political campaign,” he explained.

“Number one – to delegitimize the Supreme Court of the United States because they are angry that there are a majority of constitutionalists on the court,” added Cruz. “But number two, very directly, this is a political campaign designed to smear Justice Clarence Thomas.”

And the reason behind it is quite simple.

“The Left despises Clarence Thomas, and they do not despise him because he’s a conservative,” Cruz alleges. “The Left despises Clarence Thomas because he is a conservative African American.”

Cruz then made a reference to Thomas’s own remarks at his confirmation hearing over 30 years ago, an effort the Justice described at the time as an attempted “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks” by Democrats.

Cruz ran off a list of other justices who have taken similar trips and accepted gifts in the past, noting there was no outrage or demands for them to resign. There wasn’t even mention of it.

“I would point out Justice Kagan has done the same thing. Justice Sotomayor has done the same thing,” he said. “And yet, none of my Democrat colleagues care, because this is a political attack directed at a justice they hate.”

RELATED: Democrats To Explore Impeachment Options For Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

They Hate Him Because He’s Black

None of this is new, of course. The Political Insider reported just over a year ago that Democrats were holding a hearing to explore the possibility of impeachment for Supreme Court justices.

The controversy at that time was over Thomas’s wife Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, who exchanged text messages with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about alleged election fraud after the 2020 election.

If it’s not one manufactured scandal, it’s another. And there will certainly be more down the line.

Why? Because Democrats really hate that Clarence Thomas is the most successful, longest-tenured black Supreme Court justice – and he’s a Constitutional conservative. Demographic elements are supposed to be their platform. That is why Ketanji Brown Jackson was appointed to the Court based almost exclusively on her skin color and gender.

During an interview on Fox News over the weekend, Cruz accused Democrats of having a “special degree of hate” for Thomas because he is a black man.

“Democrats hate Justice Thomas and they save a special degree of hate for him because he is a Black man,” he said. “And their view is that an African American is not allowed to be a conservative [and] is not allowed to disagree with left-wing orthodoxy.”

Clarence Thomas is the longest-serving justice, the second black justice, and the most conservative member currently serving on the Supreme Court.

That’s the true reason he is being targeted.

He is a historic figure who should be celebrated as such.

Markey, meanwhile, is essentially a Squad member in pants and has pushed for such groundbreaking and ‘historic’ legislation as those supporting censorship under the guise of … “algorithmic justice.”

We live in a nation now where great men like Clarence Thomas are ridiculed, despised, and smeared, while people who do little more than come up with phrases designed to dupe the uneducated are celebrated.

“Democrats can have disagreements based on law, but this attempt to delegitimize the court this attempt to personally smear Clarence Thomas is dishonest,” Cruz fired back.

“And everyone in the media echoing it is participating in a shameful reprise of 1991’s high-tech lynching.”

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Watch AOC let loose on Clarence Thomas on ‘The Daily Show’

This week, longtime “The Daily Show” correspondent Jordan Klepper is taking his turn in the guest host seat. He kicked the week off with a bang, scoring an interview with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her home turf of New York City.

And while the interview began as a conversation about violence and social services in America, it ended up touching on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ ethics failures, the fight for reproductive rights, and Donald Trump being the only person who is crying for Donald Trump.

RELATED STORY: Supreme Court Justice Thomas' Republican donor buddy also collects Nazi trinkets

After Klepper joked about a theoretical Beyonce Knowles collecting Third Reich memorabilia, Ocasio-Cortez brought the interview back on track and succinctly drilled down to the bottom line:

“Supreme Court justices are required, if they are receiving money from people—they shouldn't even be receiving money from people. This is why we pay salaries to public servants. And if they want to live that kind of lifestyle, then they can resign from the court. They can retire.

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Before Klepper ended the interview, he brought up the orange elephant in the room. Did Ocasio-Cortez think people “were crying,” as Trump claimed, during his recent arraignment on charges of falsifying business records?

“Maybe George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene were, but not me,” Ocasio-Cortez said. She went on to say that Trump’s indictment is a symbol of the deep inequalities in our justice system, as she watches “people get treated far worse for doing far less” than Trump. “If you hurt one person, you get ten years in prison. But if you hurt millions of people, you get your name on a building.”

You can watch the whole interview below, as well as read a transcript of the interview.


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Justice Clarence Thomas has reported up to $750,000 in income from a company that doesn't exist


Jordan Klepper: I considered going into the medical profession. I thought I could play a handsome doctor on TV. Didn't pan out. While we were on the subject of national embarrassment, I had to ask the congresswoman about Clarence Thomas and his BFF Nazi, swag collector, Harlan Crow. I want to talk a little bit about Clarence Thomas. You've said you would even draft articles of impeachment for the things that he's done. Has there been any quid pro quo? And I said quid pro quo, partially because it took all that effort to learn what quid pro quo meant back in the Ukraine days, and it feels apropos of now. And I don't think I used apropos correctly.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: I think that quid pro quo is this bar that doesn't even need to be met. The justice is required by law to disclose something like that. And he hasn't been.

Jordan Klepper: Can you empathize, though? If Beyoncé came through here, wanted to take you on a sweet vacation, wouldn't you say, “Yes.” And let her show you her Nazi memorabilia.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Tell someone about it. But hey, don't! Don't put Bey's name on that.

Jordan Klepper: I'm not saying she has. I'm saying if she invested in Nazi memorabilia to show that she hates Nazi memorabilia, she'd want to show it off.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: And that whole thing is just, I mean, bizarre. You also don't keep the linens around …

Jordan Klepper:--All the Nazi linens?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Yeah. Who does that?

Jordan Klepper: Don't you think if you had $1,000,000,000 and you bought everything, you'd probably eventually get to Nazi linens?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: This is the distraction of that whole issue.

Jordan Klepper: You're right. We're just focused on that as opposed to all the money that's going over to Clarence Thomas. Although if you're a billionaire, can't billionaires have friends?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: They can. Supreme Court justices are required, if they are receiving money from people—they shouldn't even be receiving money from people. This is why we pay salaries to public servants. And if they want to live that kind of lifestyle, then they can resign from the court. They can retire.

Jordan Klepper: Now I want to talk about the court. It's looking as if the Supreme Court is going to rule on some of the conflicting rulings around mifepristone. Who do you think is going to write the final decision that takes away these vital rights from women? Is it going to be the guy who cried over beer or was it going to be the buddy with the Nazi memorabilia guy?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: You know, my hope is that they—we do not get to that point. But we also have to face the reality that the Supreme Court has chosen to give up huge swaths of their own legitimacy. Chief Justice Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, the Republican Party: In them giving up trying to take seriously the legitimacy, the standards, the integrity of the court, they have given up a very large degree of their authority.

Jordan Klepper: The new news in Florida this week is the six-week abortion ban. How do women approach that or fight back against something like that that's happening in Florida?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Of course, there's the standard, like, vote and mobilize. But I'm going to put that aside for a second. We do not have to accept tyranny, and this is a form of tyranny. It is a form of violence. Women will die. People will die because of this decision. And it will be, by and large, the men who signed these laws that are killing the women that will die by them.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: And we have a responsibility to help one another, whether that is supporting organizations that mail mifepristone, which has significantly reduced risk, certainly safer than medications like Viagra. But ultimately, we cannot continue to accept people in power who will abuse others for their own gain.

Jordan Klepper: Indictment week was last week. It might also be a month from now, too. We could have a lot of indictment weeks. How do you think New Yorkers treated former President Donald Trump?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: I think they treated him like a Florida man. He don't belong to us no mo’, okay? You're not from Queens anymore. He's a citizen of Mar-a-Lago at this point.

Jordan Klepper: And you said New Yorkers treated him as such?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Yeah. Why wouldn't we?

Jordan Klepper: Do you think people were weeping when he was booked, as he claims?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Maybe George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene were, but not me. Take it back to LaGuardia.

Jordan Klepper: Take it back to LaGuardia, which is in your district?

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Yes, it's in my district. And so is Rikers. And so we have, I have to go in every single day watching people get treated far worse for doing far less and then, you know, it's like this red carpet that gets rolled out. I mean, if you hurt one person, you get ten years in prison. But if you hurt millions of people, you get your name on a building.

Jordan Klepper: Congresswoman, thanks for talking with us.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Thanks for having me.

On today’s episode, Markos and Kerry are joined by a friend of the podcast, Democratic political strategist Simon Rosenberg. Rosenberg was one of the few outsiders who, like Daily Kos, kept telling the world that nothing supported the idea of a red wave. Simon and the crew break down his strategy for Democratic candidates to achieve a 55% popular vote in all elections—a number that a few years ago would have seemed unattainable, but now feels within reach.

House Republican files impeachment resolution against Mayorkas, and it’s as silly as you think

Part of Kevin McCarthy’s corrupt bargaining in his 15-round bid for the House speakership included supporting ultra-right demands for impeachment proceedings against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. While McCarthy allegedly held no public stance on proceedings earlier in the year, he was leading the threat himself right after the election because he didn’t have the votes to win the gavel.

Part of his corrupt bargaining showed its face this week when a Texas lawmaker on the first day of the new Congress filed articles of impeachment against the secretary. The silly political document claims Mayorkas should be removed “for high crimes and misdemeanors,” and cites in part fentanyl seizures at the southern border as justification. Wait, they want him out for stopping the drugs from coming in? Republicans have been very weirdly mad about successful seizures. Now they want to impeach the guy over it.

RELATED STORY: Jordan is pushing for Mayorkas impeachment based on ridiculous lie that 'we no longer have a border'

But there’s more, folks. Pat Fallon, a forced birth and anti-LGBTQ Republican from Texas’ 4th Congressional District, also cites the Biden administration’s decision to terminate the previous administration’s Remain in Mexico policy. Despite the right-wing Supreme Court of the United States ruling that the administration acted perfectly lawfully in terminating the anti-asylum policy, Fallon thinks Mayorkas should be impeached for it.

Fallon further cites the Biden administration’s attempt to terminate the previous administration’s Title 42 order, calling it “a critical tool enabling the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to quickly expel illegal aliens.” But remember the public health order’s now-delayed Dec. 21 lift date followed a court ruling that found the scientifically debunked policy violated federal law. So is the GOP stance to now violate court orders?

When asked about impeachment articles, Mayorkas was reportedly “not fazed,” one report said. Even if it is successful, it’ll go nowhere in the U.S. Senate.

“I've got a lot of work to do, and we’re going to do it,” Mayorkas told ABC News. The official said the administration is “dealing within a broken immigration system that Congress has failed to repair for decades.” Fact check: True. Not only did Republicans like Texas Sen. John Cornyn help derail a bipartisan immigration framework at the end of the last Congress, McCarthy has promised no humane immigration legislation will get his signature.

“Number two, the world is dealing with the greatest displacement of people since World War II in the Western Hemisphere,” Mayorkas continued to ABC News. “Our entire hemisphere is gripped with a migration challenge.” New parole opportunities for migrants from regions including Venezuela and Haiti are a step forward in beginning to address these challenges; policies like Title 42 are not, considering it’s only increased apprehensions and forced vulnerable people back to danger.

If you want to see the depths of the GOP’s lack of seriousness, take a look at another Texas Republican: Rep. Chip Roy claimed the administration isn’t doing enough to secure the border, so he’s got a plan of his own: Defund DHS. During a floor speech, Roy urged his colleagues “to stop funding a Department of Homeland Security that refuses to secure the border of the United States.” He promised that the newly empowered Republicans would do that “this year.” You mean defund abusive immigration enforcement agencies? Defund child kidnappers, shooters of unarmed migrants, and the agents who abuse Black migrants before deporting themLet’s fucking go. 

Back to the impeachment resolution, one more thing to mention regarding fentanyl seizures is that Republicans have sought to turn this into a political issue against Democrats when its Republicans who voted against hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the construction and modernization of land ports of entry.

“Improvements like ‘multi-energy portal’ screening technology would increase the ability for illicit narcotics seizures at the nation’s borders without significantly impacting the massive amount of legal trade that runs through those same POEs,” immigration reform advocacy group America’s Voice said last year. But Republicans voted against that.

NBC News reported that the articles against Mayorkas “have been referred to the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.” Jordan, a former wrestling coach who allegedly looked the other way when young students were being sexually abused at Ohio State University, has previously supported an impeachment effort, falsely claiming “we no longer have a border.” Do Republicans believe their own bullshit? It doesn’t really matter as long as they can get others to believe it.


Testimony confirms Title 42 was never about public health, it was about deporting asylum-seekers

LGBTQ advocates remind us that Stephen Miller was scheming policy 'long before' COVID 'even existed'

Texas Republican wants to secure the border by defunding department tasked with border security