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Senate Judiciary Finally Passes Bill to Go After Corrupt Supreme Court Justices

After dozens of reports on Supreme Court justices’ ethics scandals, a new bill aims to clean up the court.

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Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin

The Senate Judiciary Committee finally made a move Thursday to tackle corruption on the Supreme Court, advancing a bill that would require the justices to adopt a code of ethics.

The high court has come under fire in the wake of reports that Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have accepted lavish gifts from billionaire Republican donors. Many people have called on the court to establish an ethics code to help prevent such situations in the future—which the justices have resisted.

The Senate Judiciary voted 11–10, along party lines, to approve the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act, which would require the court to establish a code of conduct. It would also create a process for people to submit ethics complaints against the justices.

The measure would require justices to adhere to new rigorous disclosure rules for any gifts, travel, or income that they or their clerks receive—clearly a direct response to the gifts that Thomas and Alito have accepted over the years. The bill would also set up a panel of judges from the lower courts to investigate complaints against the justices and make recommendations for any consequences.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin called the legislation “a crucial first step in restoring confidence in the court,” after a “steady stream of reports of justices’ ethical failures.”

But committee Republicans filed 61 amendments, in an effort to drag out the committee hearing. Ranking member Lindsey Graham accused Democrats of doing “just about everything there is to do to delegitimize this court.”

But the justices have managed that just fine on their own. Thomas has for years accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow in the form of island-hopping yacht vacations; the Nazi memorabilia collector also paid for Thomas’s nephew’s tuition, and he bought a Thomas family property, where Thomas’s mother still lives.

Thomas has repeatedly refused to recuse himself from cases that relate to the January 6 riot—despite the fact that his wife, Ginni Thomas, is a major right-wing activist.

Alito accepted a luxury vacation from a billionaire Republican megadonor, as well. Right-wing activist (and then–head of the Federalist Society) Leonard Leo helped organize the trip, and also attended.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts’s wife, Jane Roberts, has allegedly been paid more than $10 million by multiple law firms, at least one of which argued a case before her husband—after it had already paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And the scrutiny is not limited to the conservative justices: Justice Sonia Sotomayor is under fire after the Associated Press reported that her staffers have pressured institutions where she was scheduled to speak to buy hundreds, even thousands, of copies of her books.

Leading Anti-Vaxxer RFK Jr. Baselessly Claims He’s Never Been Anti-Vax

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. testified before Congress, where he lied about his anti-vax history.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., one of the nation’s leading anti-vaccine propagators, just said under oath that he is not anti-vax nor has he told the public to avoid vaccination.

The comments came during the presidential candidate’s appearance before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, in a hearing focused on alleged social media censorship.

And Kennedy—who has been boosted by Big Tech CEO Elon Musk—wanted to set the record straight on something else while he had the platform.

“I have never been anti-vax,” said the man who chairs an anti-vaccine organization that has spread conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 vaccine. “I have never told the public, ‘Avoid vaccination.’”

Kennedy noted that his children are vaccinated and that he’s fully vaccinated, except with regard to Covid. “The only thing I’ve asked for … I believe vaccines should be tested with the same rigor as other medicines and medication,” he claimed, positioning his insistent, specific antagonism toward the rigorously tested Covid-19 vaccine as just reasonable inquiry.

Earlier in the hearing, Kennedy also said, “While I’m under oath, in my entire life, I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or antisemitic.” Days ago, Kennedy claimed that Covid was “targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people,” while sparing those who are “Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

Republicans’ Star Whistleblower Admits Trump Officials to Blame in Hunter Biden Case

Republicans’ Biden corruption “investigation” isn’t going too well.

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IRS criminal investigator Joseph Ziegler

The star witness strategy Republicans laid out with regard to the Hunter Biden case does not seem to be going according to plan.

On Wednesday, during a House Oversight Committee hearing—amid the haywire of Marjorie Taylor Greene waving around nude photos of Hunter Biden (and subsequently perhaps illegally sending those nudes to a bunch of minors)—Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi used his line of questioning to establish a basic point. Many of the complaints about alleged investigation interference should actually be addressed to Trump appointees.

Krishnamoorthi had addressed his questions toward Joseph Ziegler and Gary Shapley, two IRS whistleblowers who allege the Justice Department slow-walked its investigation into Hunter Biden. The witnesses are part of Republican efforts to charge the Bidens with corruption, though they’ve been scant of any smoking guns.

“You had a concern about … Attorney General Bill Barr consolidating the series of cases into the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware,” Krishnamoorthi started. “Now, of course, Bill Barr was appointed by Donald Trump, correct?” he continued, prompting an affirmative response from Ziegler.

Krishnamoorthi prompted the same response from Ziegler about U.S. Attorney David Weiss as well.

“You said that warrants were ready as soon as April 2020 to begin searching for records, but actions weren’t taken with regard to those warrants,” Krishnamoorthi then asked Shapley. “Again, Joe Biden was not the president in April of 2020. Was he?”

Shapley eventually agreed, popping yet another tire in James Comer’s chaotic clown-car committee hearings.

Dem Congresswoman Wrecks RFK Jr. for His “Idiotic, Bigoted Messaging”

Representative Stacy Plaskett called out Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Republicans who invited him to testify on “censorship.”

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Representative Stacey Plaskett absolutely destroyed Republicans on Thursday for their decision to let Robert Kennedy Jr. testify before Congress—calling them out for co-signing on his “idiotic, bigoted messaging.”

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the supposed weaponization of the federal government, a favorite talking point of Chair Jim Jordan. Jordan and House Oversight Chair James Comer, close allies of each other and of Donald Trump, have repeatedly argued that the Biden family is using the government to cover up its own wrongdoing while going after the former president.

Prominent anti-vaccine advocate and conspiracy theorist Kennedy, who is running against Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, was invited to speak on censorship and freedom of speech. But Plaskett, the Judiciary’s ranking member, was not having it.

“Many of my Republican colleagues across the dais will rush to cover that they have Mr. Kennedy here because they want to protect his free speech,” said Plaskett, a former attorney. “This is not the kind of free speech that I know of.”

She called Kennedy out for his previous racist and antisemitic comments, saying, “Free speech is not an absolute. The Supreme Court has stated that. And others’ free speech that is allowed—hateful, abusive rhetoric—does not need to be promoted in the halls of the people’s house.”

“Our right does not mean that we as Americans are … free from accountability. And that’s what’s distressing about this hearing,” Plaskett continued. “Even knowing what they know about Mr. Kennedy’s hateful, evidence-free rhetoric.… Speaker McCarthy, Chairman Jordan affirmatively chose to give this a platform.”

In addition to promoting the long-debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism, Kennedy came under fire over the weekend for claiming that Covid-19 was “targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people,” while sparing those who are “Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

He has said Black children don’t need vaccines because they have supercharged immune systems. He also implied that Jews in Nazi Germany had more freedom of movement than unvaccinated people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even though he is running on the Democratic ticket, Kennedy has many Republican donors. He also agreed to speak at the far-right Moms for Liberty summit, although he later backed out.

“These folks have a plan,” Plaskett said of Republicans. “They want to give expression to the most vile sorts of speech here in this committee room because it prepares the ground for their own conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.”

“And they apparently don’t care how many people are hurt or die as a consequence of their actions.… Because nothing, nothing is more important to them than power.”

Kevin McCarthy Just Signed a Suicide Pact with Donald Trump on Impeachment

The deal puts McCarthy in a damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t position.

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Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy doesn’t want to endorse Donald Trump for president yet. So he instead promised that the House would expunge both impeachments against the former president—and do so before the August recess.

Recess begins in less than two weeks.

Politico’s Playbook reported on McCarthy’s pledge to the twice-impeached, twice-indicted, and liable-for-sexual-abuse former president who now faces a likely third criminal indictment.

McCarthy has so far declined to endorse Trump and last month explicitly said that Trump may not be the strongest Republican candidate for 2024. He has likely avoided an endorsement in efforts to provide cover to all members of his caucus, not placing pressure on any of them, especially the vulnerable ones, to get behind the serial-criminal candidate.

But McCarthy’s refusal to endorse infuriated Trump, who fumed, “He needs to endorse me—today!” on his way to a campaign event in New Hampshire, to whoever was around to hear.

So, to quell the former president, McCarthy pledged that he would get the House to vote to expunge the two impeachments against him, and that they’d get it done before the August recess. And while the deal might’ve gotten McCarthy some time, as Playbook writes, “staving off a public war with the man who almost single-handedly rehabilitated [McCarthy’s] entire career and ensured he won the gavel in January,” the agreement puts McCarthy in a damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t situation.

There are 18 House Republicans who won in 2022 in districts that Joe Biden won. Most would be highly disincentivized, electorally, to vote for any resolution that expunges both, even one, of the impeachments against the former president. Two Republican House members had voted to impeach Trump. And without these members, any attempt to expunge the impeachments would fail.

So McCarthy is in a bind: Either make good on his wild promise to the man who helped him secure the speakership to expunge his impeachments—and increase the risk of losing that speakership—or go back on the pledge and welcome the leading candidate’s wrath.

Marjorie Taylor Greene May Have Sent Hunter Biden Nudes to a Bunch of Minors

There are laws about not doing this.

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In her desperation to prove wrongdoing by Hunter Biden, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene may have sent his nude photos to minors.

The House Oversight Committee heard testimony on Wednesday from two IRS agents who say the Department of Justice dragged its feet on investigating the younger Biden for tax fraud. The hearing produced zero actual evidence, so instead, Greene tried to claim that Biden engaged in sex trafficking and listed payments to sex workers as a tax write-off.

To support her argument, she held up poster-size prints of Biden’s nude photos, which were taken off his laptop. Not only were her actions wildly inappropriate—Oversight Chair James Comer did not reprimand her, though—but she may also have violated D.C. revenge porn law.

And now, Greene may have emailed the nudes to minors. The Georgia representative emailed her constituents Wednesday evening claiming she had confirmed Biden was guilty of sex trafficking and tax fraud (she had not). The email included a video that showed his nudes.

There is no screening for age when signing up for Greene’s email newsletter, so any minors who subscribe—such as for a social studies project or simply to stay up to date—have now received nudes from their congresswoman. If that is the case, then Greene would not only have violated her state’s revenge porn law, but she could also have broken federal laws banning the distribution of obscene material to minors.

House Republicans, led by Comer, have for months accused the Bidens of corruption and other forms of wrongdoing, although they have yet to produce any actual evidence. The hearing on Wednesday was meant to focus on Hunter Biden’s plea deal over his taxes, which will allow him to avoid jail time.

IRS agents Gary Shapley and Joe Ziegler testified before the Oversight Committee about Hunter Biden’s alleged wrongdoing. Jamie Raskin, the Oversight ranking member, had warned earlier Wednesday, however, that Shapley and Ziegler have already “undermined this Republican narrative” in their previous depositions.

Dark Brandon Ad Voiced by None Other Than Marjorie Taylor Greene Goes Viral

The campaign ad reached more than 35 million views in less than a day.

Joe Biden wears sunglasses and waves at the camera
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President Joe Biden

“Joe Biden had the largest public investment in social infrastructure and environmental programs, that is actually finishing what FDR started, that LBJ expanded on, and Joe Biden is attempting to complete,” Marjorie Taylor Greene said at the conservative Turning Point Action conference over the weekend.

Except … she meant it all as an insult?

The topsy-turvy logic was not missed by the Biden White House, which pasted Greene’s remarks into a 35-second video, clipped with videos of Biden and Vice President Harris surrounded by factory workers, officers, restaurant workers, men in hard hats and construction vests, and smiling fans meeting the president.

Greene also noted some of the other programs the Biden administration has focused on, including ones “to address education, medical care, urban problems, rural poverty, transportation, Medicare, Medicaid, labor unions,” adding that “he still is working on it.”

“I approve this message,” Biden’s account tweeted alongside the video.

As of late afternoon Wednesday, the video had amassed 35 million views—second only to a video Biden released in April announcing his reelection bid, which has over 45 million views.

Greene’s royalty-free endorsement of Biden came before another curious favor for Democrats. Today, the Georgia Republican said on the House floor that “when evidence and proof of a crime is presented, no prosecution should be denied, no matter who the person is.”

In other news, twice-impeached, twice-indicted, and rapist former President Donald Trump now faces a likely third criminal indictment.

Woman Suing Texas Over Abortion Ban Vomits During Trial After Reliving Trauma

Welcome to the Republican Party’s America.

Rick Kern/Getty Images for the Center for Reproductive Rights
The plaintiffs suing Texas over its radical abortion ban and their legal team

Women who suffered medical complications after being denied abortions in Texas are now having to relive the trauma of their injuries and dead babies as they plead their case against the state. Welcome to the Republican Party’s America.

On Wednesday, women who are part of a 15-person (both patients and doctors) lawsuit against the state of Texas, returned back to court to challenge the state’s extreme abortion ban.

Texas implemented a near-total abortion ban in September 2021, even before Roe v. Wade was overturned by a Supreme Court now found to have nearly half its jurists embroiled in scandal and corruption. The ban prohibits anyone from getting an abortion unless their life is at risk—no exceptions for a fetus developing an anomaly that would prevent it from surviving past birth. Doctors face life in prison and fines of up to $10,000 if they are found supporting an abortion procedure.

The women challenging the ban were essentially forced to relive their trauma, and at one point, the court was forced to take a break after a plaintiff began vomiting on the witness stand while recounting her own experience.

Samantha Casiano vomited while retelling the story of how she was denied access to an abortion after her baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, a birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. Casiano said she had to watch her baby die after giving birth.

Casiano’s testimony was just one of the heartbreaking stories told on Wednesday.

One of the lead plaintiffs, Amanda Zurawski, testified that she was initially excited to become pregnant. But her water broke prematurely at about 18 weeks, meaning the fetus wouldn’t survive—and her life was at risk if she couldn’t get an abortion. Under the repressive new laws, a Texas hospital refused to help her until she became much sicker. Thanks to the Republican-made delay, Zurawski developed sepsis. People who suffer from septic shock have a mortality rate of up to 40 percent, and even after recovering, sepsis still carries a fatal risk.

In other words, Republicans are directly responsible for Zurawski’s life being on the line even today.

And if she would like to become pregnant again, her fertility has been damaged as a result of the sepsis she developed while constantly being turned away from the hospital. One of her fallopian tubes remains permanently closed.

Testifying in court Wednesday, Zurawski recounted, in tears, about being denied an abortion when her water broke and doctors declared her pregnancy nonviable. Politico reporter Alice Miranda Ollstein reports that the state simply objected, calling the nightmarish testimony “irrelevant.”

The judge overruled.

Zurawski then said she was only able to obtain an abortion after going into septic shock. Again the state objected, calling Zurawski’s description of what doctors told her “hearsay.”

The state of Texas continued its assault against the woman—as if the original attack on her wasn’t enough—apparently in efforts to find someone else to blame for her suffering.

These are just a taste of the misery and suffering Texas Republicans have not only overseen but actively brought into reality.

Governor Greg Abbott, the Republican-controlled state legislature, and even Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have all pined for the abortion ban the state now has. And these are the bloody, mind-numbing consequences.

Republicans Have So Little Hunter Biden Evidence They Shared His Nudes Instead

Marjorie Taylor Greene waved the photos around in a congressional hearing.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene
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Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene

Republicans have yet to produce any evidence of actual wrongdoing by Hunter Biden, so they let Marjorie Taylor Greene wave his nude photos around Wednesday during a House Oversight Committee hearing on his taxes.

House Republicans have for months accused the Bidens of corruption and other forms of wrongdoing, although they have yet to produce any actual evidence. They’ve recently seized on Hunter Biden’s plea deal on his taxes, which will allow him to avoid jail time. But again, during that House hearing, Republicans and their “whistleblower” witnesses failed to show any meaningful evidence of said corruption.

So instead, Greene tried to claim that Biden engaged in sex trafficking and listed payments to sex workers as a tax writeoff. As part of her argument, she held up poster-size prints of Biden’s nude photos, which were taken off his laptop.

Everyone else in the room grew visibly uncomfortable as Greene displayed photo after photo. At one point, Democrats interjected, pointing out that Greene had gone over her allotted time and warning that her actions were not appropriate. But House Oversight Chair James Comer, who has spearheaded the investigation into the Bidens, did not reprimand Greene.

Not only was Greene’s decision to wave Biden’s nudes around wildly inappropriate for a congressional hearing, but it may also have violated D.C. revenge porn law. City law prohibits knowingly disclosing one or more sexual images of an identified or identifiable person when the person in the photo did not consent to the image being shared.

This isn’t the first time Republicans have shared Hunter’s nudes, but blowing them up on a poster for a congressional hearing is a new low.

Oversight Ranking Member Jamie Raskin tore into Republicans at the beginning of the hearing, noting that the majority party had no evidence. Earlier in the day, he warned that the two witnesses had already “undermined this Republican narrative” in their own previous depositions.

Raskin Tears Into GOP Hunter Biden Hearing and Star Fugitive Whistleblower

Representative Jamie Raskin brilliantly debunked Republicans’ Hunter Biden conspiracy theories.

Representative Jamie Raskin
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Representative Jamie Raskin

Representative Jamie Raskin came out swinging Wednesday at the start of the House Oversight Committee’s hearing with two IRS agents on supposed corruption in the Biden family.

House Republicans, led by Oversight Chair James Comer, have for months accused the Bidens of corruption and other forms of wrongdoing, although they have yet to produce any actual evidence. They’ve recently seized on Hunter Biden’s plea deal over his taxes, which will allow him to avoid jail time. IRS agents Gary Shapley and Joe Ziegler testified before the Oversight Committee about Hunter Biden’s alleged wrongdoing.

Raskin, the committee’s ranking member, tore into both Republicans and their star informants during his opening remarks. “I thought we might be here today on the matter that the chairman declared his top priority—the crusade to find evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden—but now, the majority’s long-promised star witness turns out to be a fugitive from American justice,” he said.

Raskin was referring to Gal Luft, whom Comer has touted as a key informant. Luft was charged last week with acting as a foreign agent for China, violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, and arms trafficking.

“One thing you will not hear today is any evidence of wrongdoing by President Joe Biden or his administration,” Raskin continued. “Like every other try by our colleagues to concoct a scandal about President Biden, this one is a complete and total bust.”

“In fact, the ongoing case that the majority invites us to interfere with today is actually a striking illustration of the success of the American system of independent prosecutors operating under the rule of law and outside the realm of the kind of political influence my colleagues are trying to exercise today.”

He reminded Republicans that the investigating federal prosecutor, David Weiss, was appointed by Donald Trump and hand-picked to lead the investigation by then–Attorney General Bill Barr (also a Trump appointee). Raskin also pointed out that once Joe Biden took office, he did not call the investigation a “witch hunt”—a clear jab at Trump—but instead let the probe play out.

Raskin warned earlier Wednesday that Shapley and Ziegler had already “undermined this Republican narrative” in previous depositions.