U.S. Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) is setting his sights not on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas but on the far-right wing jurist’s billionaire benefactor, Harlan Crow. Multiple reports say Crow has gifted him with what likely amount to over one million dollars worth of luxury travel, vacations, and even a very favorable real estate deal – all of which were never disclosed. Some experts say Thomas’ actions were “illegal.”
Chairman Wyden wants Crow, a GOP megadonor who has ties to right-wing organizations and for decades has invited the jurist and his wife, far-right wing activist and lobbyist Ginni Thomas, on annual vacations that include private plane and yacht travel to “provide a complete account of gifts and payments” he gave to Thomas, reports Politico, “marking one of the first information requests made to the GOP billionaire himself.”
“Dear Mr. Crow,” Wyden writes, beginning his six-page letter. “I write seeking information related to reports of undisclosed gifts and payments for the personal benefit of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, including private real estate transactions and the complimentary use of your private jet and superyacht. This unprecedented arrangement between a wealthy benefactor and a Supreme Court justice raises serious concerns related to federal tax and ethics laws.”
“As you are aware, a recent investigation by ProPublica revealed that for over two decades, you secretly lavished Justice Thomas with free luxury trips worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Wyden continues. “Though the full extent of your largesse to Justice Thomas remains unknown, public reporting indicates that virtually every year since joining the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas accepted free flights aboard your private jet and accommodations aboard your 162-foot superyacht, the Michaela Rose. According to reports, as part of these all-expense-paid trips, Justice Thomas and his wife, Ginni Thomas, flew on your private jet to Indonesia, where they went island-hopping for nine days on the Michaela Rose. Justice Thomas also appears to have vacationed aboard the Michaela Rose in New Zealand and Greece, and frequently used your private jet to travel to other domestic and international destinations.”
According to Politico, Wyden is asking for: “All flights that Thomas may have taken on any private jets under Crow’s ownership or under the control of Crow’s business affiliates,” “All instances where Thomas may have been a guest aboard Crow’s superyacht, the Michaela Rose,” “Detailed accounting of federal gift tax returns filed to the IRS regarding gifts to Thomas or members of his family,” “Information on three Georgia properties Crow purchased from Thomas and his relatives,” and “Any gifts or payments worth more than $1,000 made to Thomas or members of his family since he was sworn into the Supreme Court, that were not previously aforementioned.”
Declaring a “crisis of public confidence” on Friday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent Chief Justice John Roberts a letter inviting him or one of his justices to testify before the Committee in an open hearing to discuss Roberts’ “decade-long” failure to fix the ethics issues surrounding the Court and its justices.
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‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert
“Under the terms of an agreement with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office, Hall pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, conspiracy to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy, and conspiracy to defraud the state,” NBC News reports. “Under the terms of the deal, he’s being sentenced to five years probation.”
CNN previously reported “Hall, a bail bondsman and pro-Trump poll-watcher in Atlanta, spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office when voting systems were breached in January 2021. The breach was connected to efforts by pro-Trump conspiracy theorists to find voter fraud. Hall was captured on surveillance video at the office, on the day of the breach. He testified before the grand jury in Fulton County case and acknowledged that he gained access to a voting machine.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a professor of law and frequent MSNBC contributor, says Hall “was in the thick of things with Sidney Powell on Jan 7 for the Coffee County scheme involving voting machines. If he’s cooperating, it’s a bad sign for her.”
Hall’s plea deal “spells bad news for, among others, Sidney Powell,” says former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman, an NYU Law professor of law. Goodman posted a graphic showing the overlap in charges against Hall and Powell, which he called “alleged joint actions.”
With breakthrough for Georgia DA (@TamarHallerman reporting: “SCOTT HALL has become the first co-defendant in the Fulton election interference case to take a plea deal with prosecutors.”)
That spells bad news for, among others, Sidney Powell.
Example of alleged joint actions.👇 pic.twitter.com/odMM5C7JtX
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) September 29, 2023
See the graphic above or at this link.
Far-Right Republicans Kill GOP Bill to Keep Government Running in ‘Embarrassing Failure’ for McCarthy: Report
With a shutdown less than 36 hours away, far-right Republicans in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon voted against their party’s own legislation to kept the federal government running. Democrats opposed the content of the bill and voted against it. Just 21 far-right members of the GOP conference were able to effectively force what appears to be an all but inevitable shutdown at midnight on Saturday.
“HARDLINE HOUSE RS take down stopgap funding bill. 21 GOP no votes. 232-198,” reported Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman just before 2 PM Friday.
NBC News reported that a “band of conservative rebels on Friday revolted and blocked House Republicans’ short-term funding bill to keep the government open, delivering a political blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and likely cementing the chances of a painful government shutdown that is less than 48 hours away.”
“Twenty-one rebels, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a conservative bomb-thrower and a top Donald Trump ally, voted Friday afternoon to scuttle the 30-day funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, leaving Republicans without a game plan to avert a shutdown. The vote failed,” NBC added. “The embarrassing failure of the GOP measure once again highlights the dilemma for McCarthy as his hard-liners strongly oppose a short-term bill even if it includes conservative priorities. It leaves Congress on a path to a shutdown, with no apparent offramp to avoiding it — or to quickly reopen the government.”
A bipartisan group of at least 75 U.S. Senators has passed two bills this week that would keep the government running. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has refused to allow it to come to the floor for a vote.
‘Wannabe Dictator’: Milley Appears to Slam Trump After Ex-President Suggested He Should Be Executed
General Mark Milley, the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military advisor to the President, during his retirement speech Friday appeared to deliver strong criticism of former President Donald Trump, who appointed him to that post but since has waged war against him.
“Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous, not just because it is the exact sort that incites violence against public officials,” professor of global politics and political scientist Brian Klass wrote at The Atlantic after Trump’s most recent attack on the Chairman, “but also because it shows just how numb the country has grown toward threats more typical of broken, authoritarian regimes.”
Trump had written, “if the Fake News reporting is correct,” General Milley “was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States. This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH! A war between China and the United States could have been the result of this treasonous act.”
Milley was acting within his duties in a White House approved conversation, according to Klass.
On Friday, Milley appeared to blast Trump.
“We don’t take an oath to a tribe. We don’t take an oath to a religion. We don’t take an oath to a king, or queen, or a tyrant, or dictator. We don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator,” Milley declared. “We don’t take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution, and we take an oath to the idea that is America, and we’re willing to die to protect it.”
“Every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Guardian and Coast Guardsmen, each of us, emits our very life to protect and defend that document, regardless of personal price to a country.”
Vanity Fair on Thursday reported General Milley “said he has taken security precautions to protect himself and his family after Donald Trump all but called for his execution last week.”
Watch Milley’s remarks below or at this link.
🚨🚨🚨Wow, outgoing CJS Chair Milley hits Trump at retirement ceremony: “We don’t take an oath to a king, or queen, or a tyrant or a dictator. And we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator …we take an oath to the Constitution … and we’re willing to die to protect it”. pic.twitter.com/AH2eQObge4
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) September 29, 2023
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