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The Proud Boys Conviction Has Killed the Right’s Favorite Defense of January 6

“How many of the participants have been charged with insurrecting, with sedition, with treason?”

Brent Stirton/Getty Images
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The conviction of four Proud Boys for seditious conspiracy blows up a major right-wing campaign to downplay the January 6 attack.

Members of the right, particularly on Fox News, have long tried to whitewash the January 6 riot. Many claimed that it couldn’t have been an insurrection because no one had been charged with seditious conspiracy. That, of course, is not true.

“Oh, it was an insurrection,” Tucker Carlson said on his show just a few months after the attack. “So how many of the participants have been charged with insurrecting, with sedition, with treason? Zero.” The talking point was common on Fox News—but also in right-wing circles more generally.

Well, on Thursday, four members of the far-right Proud Boys, including leader Henry Tarrio, were found guilty of seditious conspiracy, as well as conspiracy to obstruct Congress and obstruction of Congress. A fifth group member was also found guilty of obstruction of Congress but not the other charges. The Proud boys are a far-right, neofascist group known for promoting chauvinist views. Former President Donald Trump infamously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during the September 2020 presidential debate, which prosecutors argued the extremist group took as a call to action.

There have now been a total of 14 convictions on seditious conspiracy over January 6, including that of Stewart Rhodes, the leader of another extremist group the Oath Keepers.

Dianne Feinstein Finally Issues Statement on Her Absence, Refuses to Say When She’ll Be Back

The California senator is pretending her absence makes no difference in what’s happening in Congress.

Senator Dianne Feinstein
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Dianne Feinstein said Thursday that her absence from the Senate is not slowing down the workings of the chamber. Don’t fall for it.

Feinstein hasn’t been in the Senate for more than eight weeks due to complications from shingles. Her last vote was in mid-February. Since then, her absence has put many key votes, including judicial confirmations, on hold. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would grant her request to let another Democratic senator temporarily serve in her place on the Judiciary Committee, but Republicans quickly poured cold water on that idea.

In a statement, Feinstein pushed back on the idea that her absence is causing issues. “The Senate continues to swiftly confirm highly qualified individuals to the federal judiciary, including seven more judicial nominees who were confirmed this week. There has been no slowdown,” she said.

“I’m confident that when I return to the Senate, we will be able to move the remaining qualified nominees out of committee quickly and to the Senate floor for a vote,” she said, while refusing to specify when she would actually return.

Although Feinstein may say that her absence isn’t a problem, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite what she said, there is still a backlog of judicial nominees who need to be confirmed—something that is becoming ever more crucial as more human rights battles play out in courts across the country. Just last week, Senate Republicans were able to pass a resolution nullifying an Environmental Protection Agency rule that seeks to reduce toxic air pollution from heavy-duty vehicles.

Feinstein announced in February that she would not run for reelection. She has had a long and storied career, but it has been sullied in recent years by reports that she is no longer mentally capable of serving. Calls for her to step down have begun to grow louder, as her congressional colleagues urge her to put the country first.

The Growing Number of Lawmakers Calling on Clarence Thomas to Resign—or Be Impeached

Here’s a list of every member of Congress calling for Clarence Thomas’s removal from the court.

Protesters hold signs that read "Impeach Thomas" in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MoveOn

Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the highest court in the United States by a narrow margin of 52–48, after fending off numerous sexual harassment allegations. Since then, perhaps buoyed by his success in evading accountability, he and his wife have only grown more brazen in flouting ethical standards and disrespecting whatever integrity the Supreme Court could symbolize.

Reporting from ProPublica has revealed an extraordinarily troubling relationship between Thomas and megabillionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow. The Nazi memorabilia–collecting billionaire footed the bill for the private school tuition of a family member Thomas was raising “as a son.” Crow has also lavished the Supreme Court justice with luxurious island-hopping excursions on superyachts and even closed a secret deal in which he bought Thomas family property and proceeded to upgrade it while Thomas’s mother still lived in it. Thomas’s “son” had joined in on many of the exotic family adventures with Crow too.

All these revelations follow other scandals, like that Thomas’s wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, texted with then–White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to strategize how best to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

None of this includes numerous other ethically questionable notches on Thomas’s belt. For instance, in the early years of the Trump presidency, Ginni Thomas was paid $200,000 by a far-right group supporting the Muslim Ban.

Months later, Thomas joined the 5–4 majority that upheld the ban.

With that in mind, here is the not-long-enough list of Democrats honorable enough to call for Clarence Thomas’s impeachment or resignation.

House

  • Alma Adams
  • Don Beyer
  • Cori Bush
  • Chuy Garcia
  • Hank Johnson
  • Ro Khanna
  • Summer Lee
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
  • Ilhan Omar
  • Bill Pascrell Jr.
  • Nydia Velázquez

Senate

  • Richard Blumenthal
  • Ed Markey

North Carolina Passes Nightmare Abortion Ban After Democrat Switched Parties

Basically as soon as Tricia Cotham switched parties, Republicans set their plan in motion.

Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Abortion rights demonstrators in Raleigh gather to protest against the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health case on June 24, 2022.

The North Carolina legislature has passed a nightmare 12-week abortion ban, a move that was made possible thanks to a former Democratic representative switching parties and that will destroy abortion access in the South.

The bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate by a vote of 29–20 Thursday, along party lines. It was rushed through the House close to midnight the night before, again along party lines. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has vowed to veto the measure, but the GOP has a veto-proof majority since Representative Tricia Cotham switched her party affiliation to Republican a month ago.* While she previously billed herself as pro-abortion, she spoke in favor of the abortion ban during the debate Thursday.

When the final vote was announced, following five grueling hours of debate, protesters who had packed the gallery broke into chants of “Abortion rights now!” and “Shame!” Security cleared them out.

The measure technically bans abortion after 12 weeks, but in reality, the window could be much shorter. People would also only be allowed to get a medication abortion until 10 weeks of pregnancy, and to get one, they would have to go to three separate, in-person appointments that are 72 hours apart.

Abortions are allowed up to 24 weeks if the fetus has a “life-limiting anomaly,” but the anomaly must be “uniformly diagnosable” even though such defects are rarely so clear-cut. Doctors also have to tell patients that such anomalies do result in live births with “unpredictable and variable lengths of life,” meaning they will have to try to convince patients to carry the pregnancy to term if there’s a chance the baby will live—even if only for a few moments.

The bill mandates that the legislature would have to appoint a rules commission to overhaul abortion clinic regulations by October. New rules could potentially force clinics to undergo costly (and unnecessary) changes, temporarily or even permanently shutting them down if they are unable to comply. It would also require health care providers to care for infants “born alive”—which health experts agree rarely occurs and could negatively impact post-birth care—and could restrict access to abortion based on a patient’s reason for wanting one.

“This bill … tells girls and women that our bodies do not belong to us. It tells men the same thing,” said Democratic Senator Lisa Grafstein. “Our democracy doesn’t belong to women any more than our bodies do.”

Republicans rushed the bill through the state legislature. Rather than introduce a fresh bill, they gutted an unrelated measure on child safety and then inserted 46 pages of abortion restrictions. They unveiled the text Wednesday night, giving lawmakers less than 11 hours to read it before it went to committee hearing. Instead of going through a traditional (lengthy) committee process, Republicans added the bill as a conference report, allowing them to go right to a vote.

“Why can’t this bill, if you think it’s so great, stand up to normal scrutiny?” asked Democratic Senator Natasha Marcus. “Are you afraid the public will see what you’re doing?”

North Carolina currently allows abortion up to 21 weeks, which has made it a haven for the procedure in the southern U.S. The combination of this bill and the hugely unpopular six-week ban recently signed in Florida will decimate access to abortion in the South.

* This article originally misstated Tricia Cotham’s title.

Ron DeSantis Is Going After the Railroads—Well, the Disney Monorail …

A carefully worded bill backs the Florida governor’s petty fight with Disney.

Ron DeSatnis
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Florida Republicans have passed a transportation-related bill with one key provision: subjecting Disney World’s monorail system to state inspections.

The amendment does not mention Disney by name, but the carefully worded language applies specifically to it.

The bill, which passed the House on Wednesday evening, calls for state oversight of “any governmentally or privately owned fixed-guideway transportation systems operating in this state which are located within an independent special district created by a local act which have boundaries within two contiguous counties.” Disney World is located within such a special district that stretches across two contiguous counties.

DeSantis certainly could have called for universal regulatory standards over rail companies. But the bill’s specificity in targeting the exact makeup of Disney’s monorail system tells you how concerned the Florida governor is with actually holding the private sector accountable.

The move comes, of course, while DeSantis has launched an all-out assault on Disney, not in response to any accusation of greed or environmental degradation or the like, but out of retaliation against Disney’s opposition to DeSantis’s notoriously unpopular “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Since then, Disney has become catch-all target practice for the Florida governor’s routines against “wokeness.”

A parallel bill, Senate Bill 1604, would cancel a long-standing development agreement that has allowed Disney to largely govern the land it holds. Both bills now await DeSantis’s signature. In the meantime, Disney has filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and his allies on the grounds that such retaliatory attacks from the governor on the company amount to a First Amendment violation.

The targeted regulation comes alongside DeSantis suggesting a new regulatory regime specifically over Disney World rides—but not those of any of its competitors, like Universal Orlando or SeaWorld—again reiterating the governor’s sole focus not on actual corporate accountability or public safety but on fulfilling his dumb pledge to “never back down from a fight” (perhaps because he can’t really fulfill that pledge in the upcoming Republican primary, or even when he’s talking to the media).

Florida Passes Bill Allowing Trans Kids to Be Taken From Their Families

Florida Republicans have sent the kidnapping bill to Ron DeSantis to sign.

Florida Capitol building
Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images
Florida Capitol building

The Florida legislature passed a bill Thursday that will let the state take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 26–13, mainly along party lines, and the House shortly after by a vote of 83–28, again along party lines. The measure now goes to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who has previously expressed support for it and will likely sign it into law.

If he signs it into law, the measure will allow the state to take custody of a child if they have been “subjected to or [are] threatened with being subjected to” gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy. Florida courts could modify custody agreements from a different state if the minor is likely to receive gender-affirming care in that second state. The text refers to gender-affirming care as “sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures” and qualifies this care as a form of “physical harm.”

Medical facilities would have to give the state Department of Health a signed attestation that they neither provide gender-affirming care to any patients under the age of 18 nor refer people to providers that do. Their medical license renewal is contingent upon sending in this attestation.

But the bill also targets trans adults: Only physicians are allowed to offer gender-affirming care (not nurse practitioners). Anyone who violates the law could be charged with a misdemeanor.

Minors who have already begun transitioning will be allowed to continue to do so, but they are no longer allowed to receive care via telehealth, including for prescriptions. Their doctors have to tell them about the “risks” of gender-affirming care, and patients will have to sign an informed consent form, which the ACLU has pointed out often contains misinformation. Doctors who violate any of these new rules could be charged with a felony.

“This is not the body that practices medicine, although we love to believe that we can,” Representative Kelly Skidmore said during the debate. “This is the wrong thing to do.”

“This is a bad bill that interferes with parental rights, that interferes with health care rights, and it puts people in danger of not being able to get the care that they need.”

Republicans across the country have introduced bills targeting gender-affirming care, insisting that by doing so, they are protecting children. Instead, lawmakers are criminalizing LGBTQ people of all ages and putting them at risk of real harm.

Florida seems to be leading the charge. The measure passed Thursday is one of the cruelest yet. State Republicans have openly admitted they “hate” LGBTQ people and are comfortable with “erasing” the community from existence.

Dick Durbin Says Someone Should Do Something on Clarence Thomas (but Not Him)

The Senate Judiciary chair is acting like he can’t do anything about the Supreme Court.

Senator Dick Durbin
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Democrats won the Senate. That enabled them to chair important committees, like the Senate Judiciary Committee, which gives Dick Durbin the power to hold the Supreme Court accountable when its justices act corruptly, like say, Clarence Thomas. Yet somehow the Illinois senator has been hard set on maintaining the illusion that he has as much power to hold Thomas accountable as we do.

“I hope that Chief Justice Roberts reads this story this morning and understands something has to be done,” Durbin said Thursday of ProPublica’s report that billionaire and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow has paid the tuition for a child Thomas was raising “as a son.”

Durbin added that the massive and continually piling reports of Thomas’s shady relationship with Crow do not rise to the level of concern that would prompt a Department of Justice probe, according to CNN.

Instead, hope seems to be Durbin’s main course of action. “I hope that the Chief Justice understands that something must be done—the reputation and credibility of the Court is at stake,” he also said.

“Someone should do something,” says the someone with the power to do something.

Durbin is also using Senator Dianne Feinstein’s absence as an excuse for why he simply can’t do anything about ethics legislation.

“It’s difficult, particularly because the Republicans have basically taken the position that they are opposed to this,” he said Thursday.

Nevermind that Democrats can still introduce legislation and force Republicans to vote on it. Durbin and the Democrats can still pursue more formal inquiries into the justices’ misdealings.

As Senate Judiciary chair, Durbin has left much to be desired. Just over a week ago, Durbin said that since Thomas would likely refuse to testify in front of the Judiciary Committee, he decided not to call for his presence at all.

“I think I know what would happen to that invitation. It would be ignored,” he said, simply.

The shocking deference and abdication of responsibility has extended to the entire court, of which is rife with shady dealings.

For weeks, he has continued passing the buck to Chief Justice John Roberts to lead reform on ethics standards for the court. But Roberts himself has refused to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about court ethics. And how could we expect him to? After all, Roberts is implicated in ethical quandaries, as his wife has been revealed to have been paid more than $10 million by an array of high-class law firms—at least one of which has argued before her husband in the Supreme Court.

Given how much Democrats purport to care about protecting the integrity and sanctity of democracy, you’d hope that they’d jump at the five-foot-putt presented to them when a third of the Supreme Court is revealed in rapid succession to be wrapped up in varying degrees of ethical mishaps.

Sure, Durbin’s point that Republicans are the main source of blame here is good and fine. But how Democrats respond is what matters. Their job is to fix the issues in our society, not simply point them out. Every single Democrat should be rallying behind investigations into the court, using every mechanism of power at their disposal to force reform.

Republicans are already being obstructive—why not challenge them to be as obstructive in full view of the public? At worst, they continue their corrupt intransigence, and Democrats benefit electorally. At best, Democrats still benefit electorally, and actually change the course of America’s future. A simple request, Democrats: do your job.

Proud Boys Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy on January 6, While Trump Enjoys Golf Trip

Sounds about right.

Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images
A mob of Trump supporters stormed and breached the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Four members of the far-right Proud Boys were found guilty of seditious conspiracy Thursday for their role in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, while the man accused of encouraging them enjoyed a golf trip.

The Proud Boys are a far-right, neofascist one known for promoting chauvinist views. Group chairman Henry Tarrio, as well as Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, and Zachary Rehl were all found guilty of seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct Congress, and obstruction of Congress. A fifth defendant, Dominic Pezzola, was found guilty of obstruction of Congress, but the jury is deadlocked on whether he is also guilty of seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct Congress. The judge has ordered them to keep deliberating on the last two charges.

Donald Trump notoriously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during the September 2020 presidential debate, which prosecutors argued the extremist group took as a call to action. The former president has been on a tour of his golf courses in Scotland and Ireland, although he said he is cutting the trip short to appear at his rape trial in New York. Trump’s lawyer denied that he would appear.

The Justice Department cited hundreds of messages exchanged by Proud Boys in the days ahead of January 6. Group members pushed former President Donald Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him.

Prosecutors said that Proud Boys led the mob into the Capitol, riling them up and gesturing to them to enter the building. Justice Department lawyers said Pezzola in particular stole a police riot shield and used it to break open a window, which rioters used to enter the Capitol.

Tarrio wasn’t in Washington for the attack because he had been arrested two days earlier in a separate case and ordered to leave the city. But he encouraged the mob on social media and in a Proud Boys group chat.

Tarrio is now the second leader of an extremist group who has been convicted of seditious conspiracy, a major win for the Justice Department. Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy in November for his role in the January 6 attack.

There have now been 14 convictions of seditious conspiracy on January 6—proof the attack on the Capitol was exactly what it looked like.

This story has been updated.

Clarence Thomas’s Friend Basically Confirms the Harlan Crow Tuition Story

Mark Paoletta seemed to be trying to defend the Supreme Court justice.

Clarence Thomas in 2020
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Another Clarence Thomas scandal, another terrible defense for it.

A ProPublica report released Thursday found that the Supreme Court justice sent his grandnephew, whom he was raising, to private boarding school, and Republican billionaire megadonor Harlan Crow paid the tuition. A bill showed Crow paid $6,000 for one month, and a school administrator told ProPublica that Crow paid for four years of tuition, including at another school. ProPublica estimated that the total cost could have been more than $150,000. Thomas disclosed none of it, of course.

Mark Paoletta, a lawyer who is also friends with Thomas and Crow (he was in that weird painting of Crow’s lodge), stepped in with what he probably thought was a slam-dunk of a defense: he essentially admitted the report was true, but insisted Thomas didn’t break any rules in the process.

Paoletta also represented Thomas’s wife, Ginni, before the January 6 committee last year.

Thomas is already under fire following two other ProPublica reports, the first one that revealed the extent of his relationship with Crow, and another that found Crow also bought Thomas’s childhood home, where his mother still lives, which similarly went unreported.

Democrats are demanding that Thomas resign, or at least be investigated, and that the Supreme Court implement a formal code of ethics. But so far, Republicans don’t seem all that interested in holding the court—or Thomas—accountable.

You Suspected the Clarence Thomas-Harlan Crow Story Wasn’t Over? You Were Right!

A new report reveals how the billionaire megadonor paid the tuition of the Supreme Court justice’s grandnephew.

Senator Mike Lee
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The hits keep coming on the rampantly crooked relationship between Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and megabillionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow. This time, ProPublica has revealed that the billionaire footed the bill for the private school tuition of a boy Thomas was raising “as a son.”

Spanning back to the ’90s, Thomas had been raising his grandnephew, Mark Martin; Thomas had taken legal custody of Martin when he was six years old. In 2008, Thomas sought to send him to Hidden Lake Academy, a private boarding school in northern Georgia.

ProPublica reporting revealed that Harlan Crow’s company paid for the private school’s over $6,000 per month tuition. ProPublica saw the bank statement of one month, though a school administrator said Crow paid for the entire school year.

Martin had also attended a separate boarding school, Randolph-Macon Academy in Virginia; Crow reportedly paid for tuition for that school as well. ProPublica estimates that if Crow paid for all four years Martin spent at the two schools, the cost may have been over $150,000. But not a penny of these tuition payment gifts were disclosed by Thomas.

What’s more is that Thomas had reported a $5,000 gift for Martin’s education from a non-billionaire friend—echoing Thomas’s tendency to report some gifts, but seldom ones from the likes of Crow. Thomas’s only defense of not doing so up to this point has been because he “was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.” The contradiction continues however, as Thomas had reported a few gifts from Crow in the past, like a $19,000 Bible.

“Harlan Crow has long been passionate about the importance of quality education and giving back to those less fortunate, especially at-risk youth,” Crow’s office said in a statement. “It’s disappointing that those with partisan political interests would try to turn helping at-risk youth with tuition assistance into something nefarious or political.”

The farce of it all is that Thomas really did not need Crow to pay for the tuition. In 1991, when Thomas first joined the court, his salary would have been some $153,600. By 2008, that number was $208,100. That doesn’t even include other income. In 2007, ProPublica notes the Thomases hauled in over $850,000 in income. Thomas had brought in over $1 million in book advances by June 2008. He readily could have paid for the private school tuition for the child he was raising “as a son.”

The latest chapter in Supreme Court Justice Corruption follows a now too-big-to-close folder of shadiness. Supreme Court Chief Justice Chief John Roberts’s wife, Jane, has allegedly been paid more than $10 million by an array of high-class law firms—at least one of which has argued before her husband in the Supreme Court.

Justice Neil Gorsuch successfully sold a 40-acre property that he had been trying to sell for two years to an undisclosed buyer; the buyer of the nearly $2 million Colorado ranch was the CEO of a law firm that has since had 22 cases with business before the court.

And, of course, the Thomas tales continue to pile up. He has received secret and lavish gifts for decades from the Nazi memorabilia–collecting billionaire and GOP donor Crow, including luxurious island-hopping excursions on superyachts and even a secret deal in which Crow bought Thomas family property and proceeded to upgrade it while Thomas’s mother still lived in it. Martin, Thomas’s “son,” had joined on much of the exotic family adventures with Crow.