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Democratic senators demand special counsel probe of Justice Thomas

Two senior Democratic senators Tuesday asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel to investigate possible wrongdoing by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas related to lavish gifts from right-wing megadonors.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon say Thomas and the wealthy donors may have violated federal tax or ethics laws in connection with the lucrative gifts over decades.

“The evidence assembled thus far plainly suggests that Justice Thomas has committed numerous willful violations of federal ethics and false-statement laws,” the senators alleged in the letter.

It also “raises significant questions about whether he and his wealthy benefactors have complied with their federal tax obligations,” Wyden and Whitehouse added.

There was no immediate response from the Department of Justice or the Supreme Court.

The two lawmakers pointed to recent bombshell news investigations that revealed Thomas failed to disclose several luxury trips and gifts worth millions of dollars from billionaire donors.

Republican megadonor Harlan Crow paid private school tuition for a nephew Thomas and his wife were raising “as their son” and even bought a home in Savannah, Georgia from Thomas and has allowed his elderly mother to stay there rent-free.

Thomas later acknowledged some, but not all of the gifts, by filing amended versions of mandatory disclosure forms.

Thomas has also faced questions about a 1999 loan from a friend to buy a $267,000 souped-up recreational vehicle. The loan was apparently totally forgiven, raising tax questions for both Thomas and his buddy, as well as disclosure issues.

It’s illegal for any federal official, including Supreme Court judges, to willfully file false disclosure forms.

The court adopted a new formal ethics code last November, but its does not include an enforcement mechanism.

The controversy over influence peddling is separate from the dispute over Thomas and right-wing colleague Justice Samuel Alito refusing to recuse themselves from cases related to former President Trump’s effort to overturn his loss in the 2020 election.

Thomas’ wife, Ginni, is a prominent right-wing activist who urged Trump administration officials to resist transferring power to President Biden. Her texts were only revealed after the court ruled 8-1, with only Thomas dissenting, that the congressional Jan. 6 hearing had a right to obtain them.

Alito’s wife hoisted a flag supporting the “Stop the Steal” movement at the couple’s home in suburban Virginia in the weeks following the attack and another flag closely tied to Christian white nationalists at their Jersey Shore beach house.


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