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“Abuse of Power”: Clarence Thomas Scandal Is Worse Than You Thought

A stunning new report reveals how the Supreme Court justice sold access to the Supreme Court, as his Republican billionaire friends lavished gifts on him.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Clarence Thomas has for years hosted charity fundraisers in the Supreme Court building for his Republican billionaire friends. In return, they have taken the justice on dozens of luxury vacations worth millions of dollars, according to a stunning new ProPublica report.

“To use the Supreme Court to fundraise for somebody’s charity is, to me, an abuse of office,” Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, told ProPublica. “It’s pay to play, isn’t it?”

ProPublica found that Thomas has happily accepted at least 38 luxury vacations from four different billionaires: Harlan Crow, David Sokol, H. Wayne Huizenga, and Paul Novelly. The gifts include yacht trips around the world, tickets to sporting events, transport on private jets, and stays at their exclusive resorts and private properties.

Thomas has disclosed none of these gifts on his financial statements, but ProPublica estimates the total value to be in the millions. And this is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

“It’s just the height of hypocrisy to wear the robes and live the lifestyle of a billionaire,” Don Fox, the former general counsel of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and the senior ethics official in the executive branch, told ProPublica.

Thomas likely met all of his billionaire sugar daddies through the Horatio Alger Association, which costs $200,000 to join. Thomas was inducted into the society in 1992, a year after he joined the Supreme Court bench. He now hosts an annual fundraiser for the association in the Supreme Court’s Great Hall. Attendance costs $1,500 for members (five times that for nonmembers).

The Supreme Court does not have an official code of ethics, but the justices say they consult the judiciary’s code of conduct. That code explicitly discourages federal judges from using their position to fundraise for outside organizations.

Some of the gifts Thomas has accepted from his Horatio Alger friends include a trip on Sokol’s private jet to his private ranch in Wyoming (valued in the low eight figures), a deep-sea fishing trip in the Caribbean on one of Novelly’s yachts, and a standing invitation to Huizenga’s members-only golf club. Huizenga sold the club in 2010, and it currently has a $150,000 initiation fee.

Thomas was already under fire for failing to report the many gifts he received from Crow, which include island-hopping yacht vacations and tuition for Thomas’s nephew. The Nazi memorabilia collector Crow also bought and renovated a Thomas family property, where Thomas’s mother still lives.

The justice’s behavior prompted increased scrutiny on the Supreme Court, and the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that would require the justices to adopt a code of ethics. The measure would create rigorous new financial disclosure rules, as well as establish a process for submitting and investigating ethics complaints against the justices.

Read ProPublica’s full story here.

Watch Joe Biden Drag Lauren Boebert for Celebrating Climate Bill She Opposed

10/10 for the delivery on this Boebert joke

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden dragged Representative Lauren Boebert on Wednesday for celebrating the benefits of his clean energy initiatives after voting against them in Congress.

Biden spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for a wind tower manufacturing facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He hailed advancements in clean energy and how addressing climate change was also creating new jobs. Biden also noted that a wind energy plant for CS Wind is being built in Pueblo, Colorado. Both projects received funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, which almost every single Republican in Congress voted against.

Coincidentally, CS Wind is Congresswoman Lauren Boebert—you know, the very quiet Republican lady?—it’s in her district,” Biden said. “Who, along with every other Republican, voted against this bill. And it’s making all this possible. And she railed against its passage. But, that’s OK, she’s welcoming it now.”

This isn’t the first time Biden has called out Republicans for trying to claim wins from policies they voted against. In June, Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville celebrated a $1.4 billion investment to expand broadband access in his state, a major tenet of Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Biden roasted Tuberville for it, tweeting he would see the senator “at groundbreaking” and later commenting that “to no one’s surprise, [the act is] bringing along some converts. People strenuously opposed, voting against it when we had this going on.”

Democratic Prosecutor Suspended by DeSantis Blasts Him as a “Weak Dictator”

Monique Worrell called out Ron DeSantis for targeting prosecutors elected by the people.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

A Florida state attorney branded Ron DeSantis a “weak dictator” on Wednesday after he suspended her, making her the second elected, Democratic state attorney that the Florida governor has removed from duty.

In an executive order, DeSantis said Monique Worrell had failed to prosecute crimes including violent crime, drug trafficking, and pedophilia. He nominated former judge Andrew Bain, a member of the conservative group the Federalist Society, to serve during her suspension. DeSantis appointed Bain to the bench in 2020.

Worrell, for her part, hit back hard, accusing DeSantis of using her to distract from his “failing and disastrous” presidential campaign. Suspending her was just a way to throw a bone to his supporters and get more media attention.

If we are mourning anything this morning, it is the loss of democracy,” Worrell told reporters. “I am your duly elected state attorney for the ninth judicial circuit, and nothing done by a weak dictator can change that. This is an outrage.”

Worrell announced she would still run for reelection. She is now the second state attorney that DeSantis has suspended for disagreeing with him.

State Attorney Andrew Warren sued DeSantis in August, two weeks after the governor suspended him for alleged “willful defiance of his duty.” DeSantis justified the suspension by pointing to a joint statement Warren signed with other elected prosecutors the day Roe v. Wade was overturned, which codified their “firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions,” such as abortion or transgender health care.

Warren denied explicitly refusing to enforce laws and argued his suspension was political retaliation and a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech. A federal judge sided with him in January—but said he was unable to restore Warren to office because that would be an overreach of the court’s authority.

Worrell alluded to Warren in her comments Wednesday. “​​Elected officials are being taken out of office solely for political purposes,” she said. “Under this tyranny, elected officials can be removed simply for political purposes and by a whim of the governor and no matter how you feel about me, you should not be OK with that.”

It is deeply concerning that DeSantis feels he has the right to remove elected officials at will, and it should raise major red flags about what he might do as president. But given his performance so far, he may never get there, anyway.

Elon Musk’s Twitter Delayed a Search Warrant for Trump’s Account

The social media company dragged its feet in complying with the search warrant.

Elon Musk and Donald Trump side by side
Nathan Laine/Bloomberg/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Elon Musk’s Twitter refused to comply with a federal search warrant for Donald Trump’s Twitter account, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for the social media company, according to court documents released Wednesday.

Special counsel Jack Smith obtained the warrant in mid-January and served the warrant to Twitter, now called “X,” alongside a “nondisclosure order.” The order barred the social media platform from informing Trump that his account would be searched.

After being  served the warrant, however, the company took several days to respond. Twitter then filed a motion to vacate the nondisclosure order on February 2, arguing the order violated the First Amendment, and refused to comply. The company demanded that U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, who was overseeing the case at the time, block enforcement of the search warrant until the matter was resolved.

Instead, Howell found Twitter in contempt and fined the platform $50,000 a day, doubling for each day of noncompliance. Twitter still did not comply with the warrant until February 9, resulting in a total of $350,000 in fines.

Twitter appealed the ruling, but in July, an appeals court upheld Howell’s decision, the documents released Wednesday show.

The district court found probable cause to search the Twitter account for evidence of criminal offenses,” the three-judge panel said in its ruling. “Moreover, the district court found that there were ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that disclosing the warrant to former President Trump ‘would seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation’ by giving him ‘an opportunity to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior, [or] notify confederates.”

It’s not yet clear what Smith was looking for on Trump’s account. The former president favored Twitter over every other form of communication, and used the platform to push his election fraud conspiracies and encourage his followers to come to Washington on January 6, 2021. Many people arrested in connection with the January 6 insurrection said they felt that Trump’s tweets were a direct call to arms.

Smith could try to use Trump’s tweets to demonstrate a pattern of behavior, part of proving one of the conspiracy charges against the former president. Trump was charged last week with trying to overturn the 2020 election and faces four counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.

Ohio Vote Is Crushing Defeat for Sherrod Brown’s Likely ’24 Opponent

Frank LaRose made the ballot measure related to abortion his central issue—and Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected it.

Frank LaRose
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Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is livid that his plan to overthrow local democracy was thwarted by democracy, and the Senate candidate has decided the best response is to insult his own constituents.

Ohioans on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to raise the threshold for ballot initiatives to 60 percent of votes, which would have paved the way for minority rule in the state. Republicans had argued the amendment was needed to protect the state constitution from the influence of special interest groups.

But in reality, the measure was put forward to block another amendment, which goes up for a vote in November, to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution. LaRose himself admitted as much, saying in June that the August election “is 100% about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution.”

Now that his central issue has lost (badly), LaRose, who will likely be the Republican candidate challenging Democrat Sherrod Brown for Senate, is blaming all the people he claims to want to represent. “I’m grateful that nearly 1.3 million Ohioans stood with us in this fight, but this is only one battle in a long war. Unfortunately, we were dramatically outspent by dark money billionaires from California to New York, and the giant ‘for sale’ sign still hangs on Ohio’s constitution,” he said in a statement.

This is blatantly untrue. Both campaigns supporting and opposing raising the vote threshold were primarily funded by out-of-state donors, but the “yes” campaign significantly out-fundraised the “no” side.

Most of the “yes” campaign’s money came from one billionaire Republican megadonor, with smaller donations from anti-abortion groups—including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which is linked to dark money king Leonard Leo.

LaRose also used his statement to spread baseless fears: “Ohioans will see the devastating impact of this vote soon enough. The radical activists that opposed Issue 1 are already planning amendments to shut parents out of a child’s life-altering medical procedure, force job killing wage mandates on small businesses, prevent law abiding citizens from protecting their families and remove critical protections for our first responders.”

There are currently no state ballot initiatives for the issues LaRose mentions, such as gender-affirming care for minors or raising the minimum wage. But go off, I guess.

LaRose ended his statement by promoting himself and, implicitly, his Senate campaign. But that may not go down so well, now that he’s shown he backs losing issues and then has a tantrum when they perform poorly.

Dianne Feinstein Was Hospitalized After Falling at Home

The 90-year-old senator was missing from Congress for months earlier this year due to her health.

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Dianne Feinstein

Senator Dianne Feinstein was taken to the hospital after falling at her home in San Francisco, according to multiple outlets.

“Senator Feinstein briefly went to the hospital yesterday afternoon as a precaution after a minor fall in her home,” a Feinstein spokesperson told TMZ Wednesday. “All of her scans were clear and she returned home.”

The 90-year-old senator was missing from the chamber for nearly three months earlier this year due to a particularly bad bout of shingles. That illness led to her contracting Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which causes facial paralysis and vision and balance impairments, as well as encephalitis—an inflammation of the brain that can cause “lasting memory or language problems, sleep disorders, bouts of confusion, mood disorders, headaches and difficulties walking,” according to The New York Times.

When she did finally return to Congress, she seemed completely unaware that she had been missing at all.

She is also increasingly reliant on her staff to direct her on how and when to vote. “Just say ‘aye,’” a colleague told her in one particularly awkward moment last month.

This is the second-oldest U.S. Senate in history. Two-thirds of Californians believe Feinstein is no longer fit to serve.

Stunning New Memo: Trumpworld Knew Fake Elector Scheme Would Fail, Didn’t Care

A newly uncovered memo details how Trump’s team knew their efforts to overthrow the election were a long shot—but pressed forward anyway.

Donald Trump
Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The lawyer who came up with the idea of using fake electors to overthrow the 2020 election knew the plan would fail, but Donald Trump and his allies pressed forward anyway, according to a previously unknown internal memo that prosecutors are using to prove the former president engaged in a criminal conspiracy.

The memo, sent by Kenneth Chesebro on December 6, 2020, was published by The New York Times Tuesday night and details the plan to send in fake electors to falsely certify Trump had won certain states (which is illegal, despite what Trump’s legal team says). Chesebro acknowledges in the memo that he is suggesting a “bold, controversial strategy” that the Supreme Court would “likely” ultimately reject.

But that still wasn’t enough to dissuade Trump.

Prosecutors described Chesebro’s memo in Trump’s latest indictment as part of a criminal plan to create “a fake controversy that would derail the proper certification of Biden as president-elect.”

The point of Chesebro’s plan was not to actually pass legal and judicial scrutiny. Instead, Chesebro’s goals were to increase the spotlight on the baseless claims of voter fraud and to give Trump’s campaign more time to win its multiple lawsuits challenging the vote results. (Judges threw out every single one of those lawsuits because they had no basis.)

The plan, which Trump lawyer John Eastman eventually took over, involved creating slates of fake electors in multiple states that Joe Biden had won. The argument would be that doing so would ensure that the correct electoral votes could be counted in case a recount flipped the state to Trump.

In separate, previously seen emails, Chesebro had also suggested having then–Vice President Mike Pence open and count the electoral votes alone. Pence could then certify the fake electors’ votes, even though Biden would have won the state.

Chesebro cited multiple articles from Harvard Law School professor Lawrence H. Tribe to back up his plan. But Tribe slammed Chesebro’s arguments as a “misrepresentation of my scholarship.”

In an essay published Tuesday, Tribe pointed out that Chesebro had taken certain points out of context or had applied narrow, specific details to a more generalized situation. Instead, what “Chesebro sought to do could grievously endanger our entire system of self-government under law,” Tribe said.

Ohio Voters Reject Measure That Would Have Paved Way for Minority Rule

This is a huge victory for democracy—and for abortion rights.

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Ohio voters have overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to raise the threshold for ballot initiatives to 60 percent of votes, which would have paved the way for minority rule in the state.

Decision Desk HQ, an election results reporting agency, called the race around 8:12 p.m. And the results are not even close: With about 33 percent of the votes in, the “no” vote on the amendment is leading by a 30-point margin.

Republicans argued the amendment was needed to protect the state constitution from the influence of special interest groups. But in reality, the measure was put forward to block another amendment, which goes up for a vote in November, to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution.

Abortion is currently legal in Ohio until about 22 weeks, although not for lack of GOP efforts after Roe v. Wade was overturned. The November amendment would allow people to decide for themselves about all reproductive health. The state could only restrict abortion access after a doctor determines the fetus is viable, or could survive outside the uterus. And even then, abortions can be performed if the patient’s health or life is at risk.

In response, Republicans tried to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to a 60 percent vote, instead of a simple majority. If they had prevailed, the new threshold would mean that just 40 percent of Ohio would have to vote against a measure, such as abortion, to reject it, allowing the minority of state residents to have the final say.

And when it comes to abortion, blocking reproductive rights is in fact a minority opinion. A USA Today Network/Suffolk University poll released two weeks ago found that 58 percent of Ohioans support enshrining abortion rights, while just 32 percent oppose it. The support crosses party lines, with a third of Republicans backing the amendment, as well as 85 percent of independent women—a crucial voter demographic.

Now that voters blocked raising the threshold, it will require only a simple majority to amend the state constitution to include abortion rights. But the issue of using abortion rights as a proxy for wars on democracy remains.

Ohio is not the first state to use abortion regulations as a way to circumvent the will of the people. In Kansas, after state residents overwhelmingly voted to keep abortion protections in the constitution, Republicans moved to implement laws that would still restrict access to the procedure.

Biden’s New National Monument Near the Grand Canyon Is a Big Freaking Deal

The designation protects land sacred to Native tribes and blocks new mining.

Maya Tilousi, member of the Hopi Tribe, Havasupai Tribe of Grand Canyon, and the Cheyanne and Arapaho Tribes, shakes hands with Joe Biden at Red Butte Airfield, 25 miles south of Tusayan, Arizona, on August 8. Biden will give an area of nearly one million acres “national monument” status.

President Joe Biden designated a new national monument near the Grand Canyon on Tuesday, protecting almost one million acres from uranium mining in a massive win for his environmental agenda and Indigenous rights.

The new Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument protects lands that are sacred to Native Americans, after tribes were forced off the land in 1919 when the Grand Canyon National Park was established. The land contains some of the most biodiverse habitats in the region and is home to bighorn sheep, bison, and bald eagles. Many of the streams in the area contribute to the Colorado River, a critical water source for the Southwest that is at an all-time low due to climate change.

“Today I’m proud to use my authority under the Antiquities Act to protect almost one million acres of land around Grand Canyon National Park as a new national monument—to help right the wrongs of the past and conserve this land … for all future generations,” Biden said during the designation ceremony at Red Butte Airfield in Arizona.

Tribal nations and conservationists had been calling for years to designate the land as a national monument. This is the fifth national monument Biden has designated, after Alaska’s Bristol Bay, Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, and Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, both of which he restored as national monuments after Donald Trump stripped their protective status.

Although existing uranium mining claims on the Arizona land will be allowed to continue, the new designation protects the land from any future mining claims. Native tribes will be able to use the land for religious ceremonies, as well as for hunting and gathering. The designation is also an important sign, not just for Indigenous people, but for everyone.

Native American history “is American history,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet secretary, said Monday. “Feeling seen means being appreciated for who we are: the original stewards of our shared lands and waters.”

Haaland on Tuesday highlighted the importance of protecting such sacred lands, while Biden stressed the significance of acknowledging all parts of history.

“At a time when some seek to ban books and bury history, we’re making it clear that we can’t just choose to learn only what we want to know. We should learn everything that’s good, bad, and the truth about who we are as a nation,” he said.

Biden also said he would invest $44 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to “strengthen climate resilience across our national park system.” Climate change is especially pertinent to Arizona, which has borne some of the worst parts of a heat wave that has boiled the Southwest. The heat finally broke (relatively speaking) last week in Phoenix, when the city’s high temperature was below 110 degrees for the first time in a month.

Ron DeSantis Ousts Campaign Manager in Flailing Attempt to “Reset”

Nothing says “things are going great” like constantly changing up your campaign staff.

Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis is trying to invigorate his flailing campaign by reshuffling staffing for a third time.

Campaign manager Generra Peck will now become chief strategist. She will be replaced by James Uthmeier, who served as DeSantis’s gubernatorial chief of staff. The changes will take place “ASAP,” Uthmeier told Politico Tuesday.

The move comes just a few weeks after DeSantis cut more than a third of campaign staff, including two senior-level advisers and about 10 people on the event-planning team. No word on whether he kept the staffers who made a video of DeSantis with a Nazi symbol in the background or an aggressively homophobic and transphobic ad attacking Donald Trump.

Peck and Uthmeier’s moves mark the third time DeSantis has tried to “reset” his struggling campaign. Before he announced he was running for president, DeSantis had positioned himself as the natural successor to Trump. But his campaign started on a whimper, not a bang, and has yet to pick up.

DeSantis is second to Trump in the polls, but by a massive margin. All of his attempts to galvanize his campaign have failed to pay off—literally. His super PAC is burning through cash, scaring off major donors, and yet he continues to slip in the polls.

Things aren’t helped by the fact that DeSantis himself is awkward and terrible at small talk. It remains to be seen whether the third time is truly the charm, but it’s not looking good so far for Team DeSantis.