Checks & Imbalances: Trump’s Profit Numbers Don’t Add Up

Today we continue looking at the latest news from Donald Trump’s ongoing trial in New York.

Bad Accounting Or Fraud? Trump’s Profit Numbers Don’t Add Up

Donald Trump is on trial in New York for allegedly lying to financial institutions for years about how much money he has. The potential fraud may not end there, reports Dan Alexander. Piles of private documents are now becoming public as part of the lawsuit, including a Deutsche Bank credit report that raises the question of whether the Trump Organization might have deceived its lender about the profitability of its golf resort in Miami and its hotel in Washington, D.C.

Trump’s business filed financial information to multiple entities, including Deutsche Bank, local authorities and an accounting firm. Documents from tax authorities and Deutsche Bank that detail the performance of Trump National Doral in Miami show identical figures of $92 million in revenue and $14 million of net operating income in 2015. The next year, the numbers varied slightly, with Deutsche showing $86 million of revenue and the tax documents listing $88 million. The two sets of numbers listed net operating income at about $12 million.

Then, in 2017, something interesting happened. Both the tax and bank documents showed a steep drop in revenue, to $75 million. The tax documents say that net operating income plunged as a result, to $4 million, a dive that makes some sense, given that it’s hard to slash costs at a resort that prides itself on high-class service. But the Deutsche Bank credit report says the Trump Organization somehow increased its net operating income to $13 million. It’s not easy to untangle all this, in part because of the Trump Organization’s strange bookkeeping practices.

MORE FROM FORBESBad Accounting Or Fraud? Trump’s Profit Numbers Don’t Add Up

Tracking Trump

Trump Thought His D.C. Hotel Would Bring In Twice As Much Money As It Did

After Donald Trump secured a lease to Washington D.C.’s historic post office in 2013 and spent more than $200 million over the next few years turning it into the ultra-luxury Trump International Hotel, the Trump Organization expected big things: Annual revenues above $100 million, profits exceeding $30 million and average room rates over $700. Trump’s lender, Deutsche Bank, found those projections realistic enough that it included them in credit reports released last week in a fraud trial that the New York attorney general is waging against Trump and his associates.

But the hotel proved to be a massive disappointment, reports Dan Alexander.

MORE FROM FORBESTrump Thought His D.C. Hotel Would Bring In Twice As Much Money As It Did

What Role Did Trump Play In Alleged Fraud Scheme? Here’s What Trial Has Revealed So Far.

Former President Donald Trump’s onetime “fixer” Michael Cohen made explosive claims on the stand this week as he implicated his former boss in an alleged fraud scheme to change valuations on financial documents for personal gain, reports Alison Durkee. Several witnesses in the ongoing civil trial against Trump and his business empire have tied the ex-president to alleged fraud.

MORE FROM FORBESWhat Role Did Trump Play In Alleged Fraud Scheme? Here’s What Trial Has Revealed So Far.

Can Trump Legally Run For President After Jan. 6 Riot? Trial Moves Forward After Colorado Judge Refuses To Dismiss Case

Former President Donald Trump will go on trial next week over whether he can be disqualified from Colorado’s presidential ballot under the 14th Amendment, after his last motion to dismiss the case failed Wednesday, reports Alison Durkee. It will mark the first trial in what’s expected to be a protracted legal battle across the country over whether Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election bar him from the presidency.

MORE FROM FORBESCan Trump Legally Run For President After Jan. 6 Riot? Trial Moves Forward After Colorado Judge Refuses To Dismiss Case

From The News Desk

Clarence Thomas: Here Are All The Ethics Scandals Involving The Supreme Court Justice Amid Unpaid RV Loan Revelations

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas never repaid a “substantial portion” of a $267,230 loan he received from a wealthy friend to pay off a luxury RV, the Senate Finance Committee announced Wednesday, reports Alison Durkee. It’s the latest revelation in a series of recent controversies involving Thomas, leading to calls for him to recuse himself from cases or be removed from office and for the court to impose a binding code of ethics.

MORE FROM FORBESJustice Clarence Thomas Did Not Repay Much Of $267,230 Loan From Friend To Buy RV

Who Is Mike Johnson? What To Know About The Newly Elected GOP House Speaker.

Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) reported earning $30,000 last year from teaching online classes at Liberty University, according to his financial disclosure form, reports Sara Dorn. He also listed debts between $280,000 and $600,000 from a mortgage, personal loan and home equity line of credit. Most members of Congress earn a $174,000 salary. The speaker is paid $223,500, according to the Congressional Research Service.

MORE FROM FORBESWho Is Mike Johnson? What To Know About The Newly Elected GOP House Speaker-And Trump Ally.

By The Numbers


The number of investigations the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics has referred for review to the House Committee on Ethics in 2023, according to a report the office released last week.


The amount of cash on hand the campaign for former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) reported having in its termination report, which was filed on Saturday. Hunter resigned from Congress in 2020 after pleading guilty on to illegally using campaign funds for personal expenses.


How much former Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.)’s campaign spent on legal fees on Sept. 29.

Road To 2024

On “Forbes Eye on Iowa,” one-time 2024 Republican presidential candidate Perry Johnson talked about the presidential race, endorsed former President Trump and promoted his policy agenda.


A Deutsche Bank credit report said the net operating income at the Trump hotel in Washington, D.C. measured $7.6 million in 2017. How much profit did statements covering the years ending August 31 of 2017 and 2018 appear to show?

a. $7.6 million

b. Close to $0

c. $6 million

d. $9 million

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#Checks #Imbalances #Trumps #Profit #Numbers #Dont #Add

Supreme Court Decides ‘Democracy’ Can Stay, For Now

Fears of the End of the Republic were forestalled until sometime between the next Trump rally and November 2024, as the Supreme Court decided today that state legislatures can’t just make up any old election laws — or results — they want to, without any oversight from state or even federal courts. In Moore v. Harper, the Court decided in a six to three decision — which should have been nine to zero — that the so-called “independent state legislature theory” is dumb and bogus, not to mention seriously fucked in the head. We paraphrase, but only slightly; Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, actually said the idea was “Insane in the membrane, insane in the brain.”

As many suspected following the oral arguments in December, the three dissenting justices were Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch, who probably belong on a terror watch list.


Big Day At Supreme Court As It Hears Case Of ‘Democracy v. LOL’

Moore v Harper Oral Hearings: Democracy Maybe Only MOSTLY Dead!

NC Supreme Court Brings Back The Racist Gerrymandering Republicans Need To Win

The Independent State Legislature (ISL) Fan Fiction, as NYU Law Prof Melissa Murray likes to call it, starts with a thing that is real and then piles on, with no precedent or reason at all, a bunch of assumptions with virtually no actual backing in case law, US history, or common sense. The Constitution’s elections clause says simply that

The times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.

According to the fabulists who made up the ISL foolishness a few decades ago, that clause means that no other state authority, including state courts, governors, or county elections officials, can challenge the legislature’s decisions on federal elections, even if they appear patently unfair.

The case involves an extreme gerrymander passed in 2021 by the heavily Republican North Carolina Legislature, which would give the vast majority of the state’s 14 congressional seats to Republicans. As the Brennan Center explains, the redistricting maps are “so extreme that an evenly divided popular vote would have awarded 10 seats to the Republicans and only four to the Democrats.”

Because North Carolina’s constitution includes a “free elections clause” that prohibits such partisan gerrymandering, the state Supreme Court struck down the map in 2022, calling it an

egregious and intentional partisan gerrymander . . . designed to enhance Republican performance, and thereby give a greater voice to those voters than to any others.”

That prompted the North Carolina Lege to turn right around and pass a whole new extreme partisan gerrymander, and when it was challenged in state courts, Republicans went to the US Supreme Court to demand that it let the map stand, because independent state legislature, can’t you people even read?

In his decision today, Roberts wrote — actually this time — that several previous Supreme Court precedents had already made clear that state legislatures do not have “exclusive and independent authority when setting the rules governing federal elections,” and that the Elections Clause doesn’t invalidate the fundamental principal of judicial review as established in Marbury v. Madison. He also pointed out that “when legislatures make laws, they are bound by the provisions of the very documents that give them life,” i.e., state constitutions, and so obviously state courts have the power to rein in a state legislature in keeping with that state’s constitution. “You stupidheads,” Roberts did not add.

[NYT / Moore v. Harper]

While we’re at it, let’s also take a quick look at some other Supreme Court decisions we haven’t written about yet this term, just so we have ’em on record for you:

Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Ohio State U Can Go Forward, you listening, Rep. Jordan?

On Monday, the Court decided not to hear an appeal of a lower court decision that allows more than 230 men to sue Ohio State over sexual abuse by the late Dr. Richard Strauss, who worked at Ohio State from 1978 to 1998. The university has apologized to those abused by Strauss, who killed himself in 2005, and has settled lawsuits with at least 296 victims, to the tune of over $60 million. But it tried to have the unsettled cases dismissed, claiming that the time limit to sue had expired. The AP explains:

The remaining plaintiffs have argued that they filed timely claims and that the time limit didn’t start running until the 2018 investigation into Strauss’ abuse made his conduct public. The men say that was when they first learned that the school had been aware of Strauss’ abuse and failed to protect them from him. Many also only realized then that they’d been victims of abuse since Strauss disguised his abuse as medical care, their lawyers said.

Among those named in the lawsuits is Rep. Jim Jordan, who was the assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State from 1986 to 1994 but insists he never knew what Strauss was up to. A spokesman for Jordan yesterday reiterated Jordan’s claim that he “never saw or heard of any abuse, and if he had, he would have dealt with it.”

[AP / NBC News]

If Alabama Has To Fix Its Racist District Maps, So Does Louisiana

In another short, unsigned decision, the Court on Monday slapped down an “emergency” attempt by Louisiana to block a lower court’s finding that Louisiana has to redraw its congressional district maps to create at least two districts where Black voters have a chance to elect a congressional member of their choice. The Supreme Court refusal to fast-track the case follows its decision earlier this month to toss out a similar racial gerrymander in Alabama, a decision that left many surprised that the Court hadn’t decided to stomp a little more life out of the Voting Rights Act.

The case now goes back to the notoriously rightwing Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which may end up affirming Louisiana’s contention that no, its racial gerrymander is very different and more constitutional than Alabama’s, so it’s entirely possible the case will still make it back to the Supremes next term anyway.


Hey Navajo Nation, You Get A Reservation. Water Rights Not So Much

In one of the more bizarre rulings in a while, the Court decided last week that the US government’s 1868 treaty with the Navajo Nation, which established the largest Native American reservation in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, didn’t actually require the government to ensure that the tribe would have access to water. ProPublica tries to explain what seems inexplicable: After decades trying to negotiate with the state of Arizona, the Navajo Nation sued, in hopes of getting the Court to define what the tribe’s water rights were, and to order Arizona to stop delaying and allow the Navajo Nation reliable access to water.

ProPublica notes that while tribes have always had to negotiate for water with states, the federal government has also acted on tribes’ behalf by “helping account for how much is needed and available.” But when it came to intervening in the protracted negotiations between the tribe and the state, the Court, in a 5-4 decision, said nah, not our job.

Writing for the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the tribe’s treaties do not impose “a duty on the United States to take affirmative steps to secure water for the Tribe.”

The case has been dragging through the federal courts since 2003, eventually accumulating briefs from “four states, more than 100 tribes and 27 trade groups representing mining companies and other water-intensive industries.” So much for all that! Now it’s back to the Navajo Nation trying to get an agreement with Arizona, which is already fighting to get enough dwindling Colorado River water for its very important subdivisions and agriculture barons.

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren said he hopes an agreement may be more likely with Arizona’s new governor Katie Hobbs, who promised while campaigning last year that she would work with tribes to resolve water claims.

Following the Court’s decision last week, Hobbs announced the appointment of four tribal officials — from the Navajo Nation, the Colorado River Indian Tribes, the Gila River Indian Community, and the Ak-Chin Indian Community — to the “Governor’s Water Policy Council,” which already includes Maria Dadgar, the executive director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. So at least there’s a formal place at the water policy table, which is different from the water table (just a little hydrology joke there).

Justice Neil Gorsuch continued his advocacy for tribal rights with a scathing dissent in which he agreed with tribes that the 1868 treaty does so guarantee “enforceable water rights” that the federal government is obligated to define.

“The Navajo have tried it all. They have written federal officials. They have moved this Court to clarify the United States’ responsibilities when representing them. They have sought to intervene directly in water-related litigation,” Gorsuch wrote. “At each turn, they have received the same answer: ‘Try again.’”

ProPublica also notes — drily, as is only appropriate — that if negotiations with Arizona go nowhere, the Navajo Nation’s “other option is continuing a water adjudication case in state court that began in 1978, involves 14,000 claims and has no end in sight.”

[ProPublica / Gov. Katie Hobbs / NBC News]

Keep Wonkette lawsplaining it all for you, if you are able!

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Supreme Court Upholds Tribal Adoption Rights, What Horror Is This Leading Up To?

The US Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the law that gives Native American tribes preference in adoption and foster care cases involving Native children, rejecting the argument that it’s racist against white people. In a 7 to 2 decision, the Court let stand the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which Congress wrote to address concerns that Native kids were being taken away from their families, a legacy of the US government’s attempts to wipe out Native American tribes through forced assimilation. The ’70s were a crazy time, with the disco and the occasional congressional efforts to provide at least some justice for past discrimination.


Will Supreme Court ‘Increase Domestic Supply Of Infants’ By Stealing Native American Babies?

You Guys, The Fifth Circuit Ruled *For* The Welfare Of Indian Children

What The Hell Is It With Republicans Crapping On Native Americans?

Under the ICWA, as Vox explainered, if a child is a member of a Native American tribe or even is eligible for membership, then any adoption or foster placement needs to give first preference to the child’s extended family, and then to another Native American family, ideally in their own tribe or if necessary another tribe.

The law aims to keep Native children within Native communities, after over a century of US attempts at genociding Native Americans and, for most of the 20th century, actively attempting to alienate people from their tribal identities — first by taking Native kids from their families to Indian schools that aimed to assimilate them into the dominant Anglo culture, and later by encouraging adoptions of Native kids by white parents.

(A quick note on language here: Federal law and court cases use the term “Indian,” which has very specific meanings in law, so at times we will too, even if in the wider culture it’s no longer the preferred nomenclature, Dude.)

The case, Haaland v. Brackeen, has been making its way through the federal courts for years. It involves a white Texas couple, Jennifer and Chad Brackeen, who in 2016 were appointed as foster parents of a 10-month-old boy whose birth parents were Navajo and Cherokee. God told the Brackeens they needed to adopt the boy, but they found themselves in a legal fight with the Navajo Nation. Eventually they did adopt the boy, but they also wanted to adopt his half-sister, and here we are at the Supreme Court, with the Brackeens and the state of Texas (and a few other plaintiffs) arguing that the 1978 law was unconstitutional because it was an illegal racial preference and discriminated against non-Indian parents, and that by superseding state family law courts, Congress had overreached.

Ultimately, though, the Court, in an opinion written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, rejected that claim, as the New York Times explains:

The tribes have said that they are political entities, not racial groups. Doing away with that distinction, which underpins tribal rights, they argued, could imperil nearly every aspect of Indian law and policy, including measures that govern access to land, water and gambling.

The majority dismissed the equal protection argument, saying that no party in the case had legal standing. Instead, the justices focused on Congress’s longstanding authority to make laws about tribes. […]

“Our cases leave little doubt that Congress’s power in this field is muscular, superseding both tribal and state authority,” Justice Barrett wrote, adding that its authority touched on subjects as varied as criminal defense, domestic violence, property law, employment and trade. She added, “The Constitution does not erect a firewall around family law.”

The two dissenting justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, each wrote their own dissents. Alito griped that the law focused too much on the tribes’ rights and not the right of the child to have the best family, which we presume was shorthand for a white family, because we’re just that mean. Thomas was his usual “government overreach, boo, hiss!” self, contending that the law wasn’t fair because some of the Native kids involved in adoptions regulated by the ICWA “may never have even set foot on Indian lands.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who’s been consistently friendly to Tribal interests in federal law, wrote a concurring opinion in which he said the majority opinion “safeguards the ability of tribal members to raise their children free from interference by state authorities and other outside parties.” Gorsuch explained that he agrees completely with the majority, but also wanted to provide “some historical context” with an overview of “how our founding document mediates between competing federal, state, and tribal claims of sovereignty.”

Here’s his introduction, which genuinely makes me want to read the rest this weekend.

The Indian Child Welfare Act did not emerge from a vacuum. It came as a direct response to the mass removal of Indian children from their families during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s by state officials and private parties. That practice, in turn, was only the latest iteration of a much older policy of removing Indian children from their families—one initially spearheaded by federal officials with the aid of their state counterparts nearly 150 years ago. In all its many forms, the dissolution of the Indian family has had devastating effects on children and parents alike. It has also presented an existential threat to the continued vitality of Tribes—something many federal and state officials over the years saw as a feature, not as a flaw. This is the story of ICWA.

Well yeah, that’s all impressively true, which led to a very reasonable question from “Southpaw” on Twitter: How the hell is it that Gorsuch is

so attuned to—and frankly eloquent at exposing—structural racism in Indian affairs, but so seemingly indifferent to it in other aspects of American life?

New Republic legal writer Matt Ford suggested that it comes down to Gorsuch’s weird originalism, pointing out that in his concurrence, Gorsuch writes,

Our Constitution reserves for the Tribes a place—an enduring place—in the structure of American life. It promises them sovereignty for as long as they wish to keep it. And it secures that promise by divesting States of authority over Indian affairs and by giving the federal government certain significant (but limited and enumerated) powers aimed at building a lasting peace.

Bummer for anyone else who’s faced systemic discrimination, though. You people should have found a way to get yourselves into the Constitution, and don’t you go saying “the 14th Amendment” because that’s not specific enough. He’s an odd one.

In a statement, President Joe Biden celebrated the Court’s decision, pointing out that he had supported the ICWA when he was in the Senate, he’s so old. Biden also did his own Critical Race Theory, noting that

Our Nation’s painful history looms large over today’s decision. In the not-so-distant past, Native children were stolen from the arms of the people who loved them. They were sent to boarding schools or to be raised by non-Indian families—all with the aim of erasing who they are as Native people and tribal citizens. These were acts of unspeakable cruelty that affected generations of Native children and threatened the very survival of Tribal Nations. The Indian Child Welfare Act was our Nation’s promise: never again.

So now all we have to do is worry what this pretty reasonable decision, combined with one that didn’t strike down the Voting Rights Act in its entirety last week, means for the next bunch of decisions coming from the Court, not that we’re cynical that way. Maybe it’ll decide not only to strike down Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, but also to eliminate student aid going forward because George Washington never got a student loan, now did he?

[AP / NYT / Vox / Haaland v. Brackeen / Photo: Jarek Tuszyński, Creative Commons License 3.0]

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A Former And Current Democrat Wrestle Against A Moral Universe

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It is a favorite quote of former Pres. Barack Obama (who had it woven into his White House rug) and cited by other politicians, often around MLK Day. But despite its good sentiment, some scholars have noted the meaning was taken out of context to excuse inaction all for a dream of “justice” we might never see in this world.

So, let’s keep this debate in mind when we discuss two specific guests on this week’s Sunday shows.

It’s the Kyrsten Sinema Show!

The senior senator from Arizona, part-time reseller and full-time asshole made a rare appearance on a Sunday show to answer some questions. She also made sure it was at the McCain Institute in front of a live audience with CBS’s “Face The Nation” so that she could receive maximum attention while being the feckless senator we all know.

For example, when Sinema criticized the Biden Administration’s border policy, host Margaret Brennan mentions an immigration bill Sinema and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma introduced. But when asked about passing it before Title 42 expires, Sinema joked about the uselessness of the Senate.

SINEMA: Oh, God, no, Margaret. This is the United States Senate. (laughter)

BRENNAN: That’s what I was saying.

SINEMA: I don’t think you can get agreement on a restroom break by next Thursday. The United States Senate is functioning at a fairly dysfunctional level right now.

Hahahahaha! Isn’t it truly hilarious that the people elected to govern can’t do a single thing?! And that they not only know they won’t take action to help their constituents but find it a joke??! Just hilarious, Sinema. Hardy Har Har …

Sinema was asked about Republicans holding the full faith and credit of the US hostage for draconian cuts with the debt ceiling and she outlined the real problem — “both sides.”

While Sinema admitted Biden is correct to want a “a clean debt limit to meet the full faith and responsibility of the United States of America,” she blamed him for not prioritizing Kevin McCarthy’s political career over destroying the American people’s lives or the global financial system.

SINEMA: […] Kevin McCarthy, as we all saw, took him a long time to become Speaker. Barely squeaked by with the votes, had to make a lot of concessions to get the job and he has a very, very narrow road to walk. So he has to thread a needle where he can get the votes he needs to pass a debt limit increase and continue to be Speaker. […] Reality is the bill that Kevin and his colleagues passed through the House is not going to be the solution. The votes do not exist in the United States Senate to pass that. But what the president is offering is not a realistic solution either. There’s not going to be just a simple clean debt limit. The votes don’t exist for that. […]

The votes DO exist to pass a clean limit, Sinema. You just need all the House Democratic votes and enough sane Republicans for a majority. But the reason that someone like Sinema or McCarthy can’t see that is because anything that doesn’t advance their careers or risks political power for their constituents is not seen as a solution.

Ironically, Sinema’s Senate career and McCarthy’s speakership might be over soon due to that very calculus.

Dick Durbin: The Susan Collins of Chuck Schumers

Speaking of political inaction, Senate Judiciary chair Dick Durbin was on CNN’s “State of The Union” with Jake Tapper.

Tapper asked Durbin about what Congress can do to solve the gun violence that led to ANOTHER mass shooting in Texas on Saturday.

DURBIN: There is something more that America can do, and it’s called an election.

Oh, fuck you, Dick. Your answer to why Congress can’t meet the demands for action from the majority of Americans tired of gun violence is “vote harder”?? Fuck off! Americans are united. It’s Congress who isn’t.

Even in a Fox news poll.

Record-breaking election turnouts in 2018,2020 and 2022 is why Durbin even has a chairmanship. Voters are doing/have done everything they can only to have their votes “rewarded” by political apathy.

But that’s too much to ask from someone like Durbin. When asked about Clarence Thomas’s recent revelations, Durbin at best could muster mild disappointment.

TAPPER: Some of your fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill say that this seems to go beyond ethical lapses; it rises to the level of corrupt behavior. Is that a word you would use, corrupt?

DURBIN: Well, I can tell you that the conclusion most people would reach is that this tangled web around Justice Clarence Thomas just gets worse and worse by the day. […] The question is whether it embarrasses the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice. […] This is the Roberts court, and history is going to judge him by the decision he makes on this. He has the power to make the difference.

History? You’re the Senate Judiciary Committee chair! It’s YOUR job, you feckless fossil! If you are waiting on history, which if I remember is written by the victors, we are all doomed.

Durbin, who can’t even stand up to end the bullshit blue slips, also made an idle threat about taking action about Thomas on Twitter like a telephone tough guy.

Tapper, who is no progressive, seemed almost as frustrated by this when he asked about Dianne Feinstein’s return to the Senate and let his inner sauciness out on Durbin’s bullshit about Feinstein’s wishes over the needs of the American people.

Republicans are pursuing evil, but politicians like Durbin and Sinema help gatekeep progress through incrementalism instead of fighting hard.

And Dick Durbin should know better.

Have a week.

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Justice Clarence Thomas gets support from retired Justice Breyer and the Left can’t deal

Sometimes when politics seems at its craziest, we see signs that sanity is possible. One of those signs came when retired Supreme Court Justice Breyer stood up for Justice Clarence Thomas:

From The Daily Caller:

As far as I’m concerned, I sat next to him on the bench for 28 years. I like him. He’s a friend of mine. I’ve never seen him do anything underhanded or say anything underhanded[.]

My personal point of view is he’s a man of integrity[.]

This gave us hope that perhaps a liberal center could assert itself and stop this latest weird and racist jihad against Thomas. Then the leftists began to screech, starting with Elie Mystal (who is a man):

Of course, Mad Scientist Fat Albert (as @redsteeze calls him) is killing a straw man, but that’s nothing new with him. Sadly, he goes on:

And Ian Milhouse Millhiser had to chime in:

As did others:

There were even accusations that Breyer was protecting for Thomas to cover for his own alleged ethical lapses:

Indeed, one man claimed he had the goods. But he didn’t make the point he thought he was making:

Of course, factually, there appears to be some evidence to support this claim:

Yet, there were no significant calls to impeach Breyer while he was serving on the Supreme Court, a point hammered home by another Tweeter:

Her numbers do not appear to be exact, but they are reasonably close:

And her point is that there is a clear double standard. Breyer’s conduct was more troubling than Thomas, but there were no serious calls to impeach him over it. So, to talk about impeachment with Thomas is unjustified discrimination.

Of course, the very same people who claim every criticism of George Soros is automatically Anti-Semitism or that any criticism of the totalitarian communist government of China is automatically racist against Chinese Americans will never admit their hatred of Clarence Thomas is racist. And it clearly is. What Democrats hate the most about Thomas is they feel like he betrayed them. He is black. They think, therefore, he is supposed to be on their side, automatically. Let’s not forget that Joe Biden told people that if they weren’t sure if they should vote for him, they aren’t black:

Or that he said that Latinos, unlike black Americans, had an incredible diversity of views:

These were only gaffes in the sense that Joe Biden accidentally said what Democrats really thought out loud. Thomas himself recognized it years ago:

And it still goes on today. Yes, his conservativism plays a crucial role in their hatred of him, but the most significant element is the color of his skin and the racist sense of betrayal that comes with it. ‘You’re black! You’re supposed to be on our side!’ is what they believe.

Good for Justice Breyer for rising above that racism and being able to disagree with Thomas without making it personal, and for defending Thomas. He didn’t just call Thomas a friend. He showed he was a friend in the truest sense of the word.

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This Week In Libelslander!

It’s a big week for defamation cases — and threats!

In the wake of Dominion settling its incredibly valid defamation lawsuit against Fox News for $787 million, it’s important to remember that most defamation cases are stupid bullshit that waste the time of our courts and taxpayer money, all in an effort to stop other people from criticizing the rich and powerful.

Why Did Fox News Settle And Why Didn’t They Do It Two Years Ago?

But remember we shall, thanks to three Republicans who couldn’t help but make fools of themselves in order to aid us all in our continuing civic education. In Texas, secessionists have filed a defamation lawsuit arguing that it’s illegal to call seceding from the union “seditious treason.” In Florida, a state legislator is threatening to sue her constituents for defamation for stating true facts to her face. And in Utah and/or DC, Senator Mike Lee continues to make us all wonder if he did, in fact, actually go to law school. (Maybe he attended with George Santos?)

So let’s dig in!

Let’s start in Texas

Jeff Leach is a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives. He’s, well, pretty terrible on most issues. He doesn’t think women are full citizens and supports total abortion bans. He opposes gun regulation, wants a constitutional amendment to ban state income tax, and supported SB 1, a voter disenfranchisement bill Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed last year.

However, unlike many other members of his party, Representative Leach does not actually support sedition and treason against the United States.

Texas always has some crazies talking about seceding from the union. And for extra special fun, those crazies include several Republican members of the state Legislature! Last month, these anti-America enthusiasts introduced HB 3596, which they call the “TEXIT Referendum Act.” In effect, the TEXIT bill would trigger a statewide vote on whether or not Texans want to engage in Civil War 2.0. (And not for nothing, the author of HB 3596 was none other than Representative Bryan Slaton, whose other key issues include calling drag queens groomers and taking rights away from women … and who has recently been credibly accused of sexual misconduct for preying on a young Capitol intern who is “under the age of 21.” In fact, he’s been so credibly accused that last night he resigned!)[Due to an editing mistake by me, the Editrix, we incorrectly said Slaton had resigned. In fact, that was an entirely different Tennessee Republican member of the House who resigned after serial grotesque sexual harassment of House interns. You can understand our mistake. No apologies to Bryan Slaton.]

To his credit, Leach was … not a fan of the TEXIT proposal.

(More good Leach tweets here on Texas secession here, here, and here.)

So far, Leach has been right and the TEXIT bill has not moved since being assigned to committee.

But now, we get to the good part.

Wednesday, while he was chairing a House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee hearing, Leach was served with a truly ridiculous defamation lawsuit about … his tweets.

The person suing Leach is Morgan McComb, a constituent with a very sane Twitter feed who fancies herself a “Republican activist.” She describes herself in her bio as “A TRUE Conservative TX Grassroots Leader, Mom & Patriot Community RE-Organizer. Rescues horses. God Guns Guts and Glory!” so you just know she’s on the level. McComb is also currently under felony indictment for violating Texas’s online impersonation statute. In 2020, she allegedly used “the name and photo of a rival Republican campaign operative in Frisco” and “used the account to publish the other campaigner’s records from family court, psychological and counseling records, and a criminal court record.” She seems nice!

So McComb is, umm, an interesting character. But when you come across a case this bad, you also have to consider the lawyer. McComb’s lawyer in this truly ridiculous case is Frisco-based Paul Davis. Davis is a supergenius who posted a video of himself outside the Capitol at the January 6 insurrection and still thinks he did nothing wrong. Since losing his old lawyer job for, you know, participating in a coup attempt, McComb has decided to make a name for himself by filing the worst lawsuits he can think of and branding himself a “lawyer for patriots.” He also has the dubious achievement of filing perhaps the most bogus of all the anti-democracy suits after the 2020 election, arguing the entire 117th Congress was “illegitimately elected.” (Here’s that complaint. It’s a doozy.)

The suit is being funded by the “Texas Nationalist Movement,” a group of people who are exactly who you think they are. TNM has apparently been excitedly hoping for an opportunity to file exactly this ridiculous lawsuit for a while now, with a blog on its site from July 2022 titled “Should TEXIT Supporters Sue Opposers Who Accuse Us of Treason?”

The suit against Leach for all the libelslander is pretty much what you would expect from all of these brilliant minds.

To the Complaint!

Although McComb whines about several of Leach’s tweets in the complaint, there is only one where he addresses her directly.

According to McComb, this defames both her and … the Texas secessionist movement?

“In fact, one obstacle to the movement for Texas independence is that many people mistakenly believe that it literally is sedition or treason to advocate for Texas independence.”


According to the complaint, Leach’s tweet is defamation per se, because “Neither McComb’s support for the TEXIT Bill nor a belief that “Texas should secede from the United States” fit the definition of treason or sedition under the United States Code or any other applicable law.”


Adorably, taking a close look at the complaint itself shows just how meritless it is. The case the suit cites for support is Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity v. Dickinson, where the Texas Supreme Court just ruled … that it was not defamatory for a forced birth proponent to call abortion rights activists “murderers.”

We hold that the challenged statements are protected opinion about abortion law made in pursuit of changing that law, placing them at the heart of protected speech under the United States and Texas Constitutions. Such opinions are constitutionally protected even when the speaker applies them to specific advocacy groups that support abortion rights. In our state and nation, an advocate is free “to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject,” perhaps most especially on controversial subjects like legalized abortion.

To most people with a modicum of logical reasoning, it would be pretty obvious that this case does not, in fact, support a finding of defamation here. But, according to the complaint,

Leach’s statements can be distinguished from
the statements at issue in the Dickson case because a reasonably
intelligent member of the public is not equipped with the same general
understanding and awareness that supporting Texas independence is not
sedition or treason as compared to the general understanding that
abortion is not legally defined to be murder.

In fact, one obstacle to the movement for Texas independence is that many people mistakenly believe that it literally is sedition or treason to advocate for Texas independence. Thus, the holding the Texas Supreme Court reversing the Dallas Court of Appeals holding in Dickson does not apply to the facts of this case. Therefore, under the reasoning of the Dickson precedent, Leach’s statement is actionable defamation.

No, I don’t have any ungodly idea what that is supposed to mean. And at no other point does the complaint attempt to explain why it’s constitutionally protected speech to call someone a murderer but not a traitor. Or, for that matter, how McComb and her buddies plan on seceding from the union without committing treason or sedition. Since in our history, seceding from the union tends to be an act of war, and therefore, you know, seditious treason.

But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story!

Meanwhile, in Florida …

Earlier this week, Florida state Senator Ileana Garcia voted for SB 1718, a bill that would make it a felony for anyone in Florida to associate with an undocumented person. While a group of Floridians talked to Garcia about her vote, Thomas Kennedy, an immigrant and political activist, called her “illegitimate” and stated that she won her election because of “a ghost candidate.”

Guess what? It’s true! Alex Rodriguez, the ghost candidate in question, pleaded guilty to taking bribes in the election fraud scheme that helped elect Garcia. He was recruited by Frank Artiles, a former Florida state senator, who paid Rodriguez to change his party affiliation from Republican to independent and put his name on the ballot.

The reason? The incumbent Democrat in the district in question also had the last name Rodriguez. In the end, Rodriguez the ghost candidate, who did not campaign at all, received 6,382 votes. Garcia won her senate seat by 32 votes.

So, naturally, Senator Garcia’s response to a constituent pointing out this inconvenient truth was to threaten to sue him.

Kennedy: You have no validity. You won because of voter fraud.You’re illegitimate.

Garcia: llegitimate how, Thomas?

Kennedy: You won because of a ghost candidate funded by [Florida Power & Light].

Garcia: Put him on video saying that.

Kennedy (to Garcia staffer videotaping the exchange): You won because of a ghost candidate funded by FPL.

Garcia: If I sued you tomorrow for that comment, would you be up for that?

Kennedy: Sue me. Sue me. Sue me for defamation.

Garcia: It’s on record. It’s on record. It’s on record. We got a good defamation bill coming up. We got a good defamation bill coming. What’s coming up now, what’s coming up now is the validity of a couple of other things that are going on.

The bill Garcia is referring to here is SB 1220/HB 991, an anti-free speech proposal designed to stop people from criticizing Ron DeSantis and other Republicans. And in particular, it says that you don’t even have to prove you suffered any harm or damages if the defamation suit is about the fact that someone called you a racist, sexist, homophobe, or transphobe.

Yes, really. It is actually that bad. The bill has been condemned far and wide as an attack on free speech — which it absolutely is. In particular, it is intended to scare oppressed people into being afraid to publicly stand up for themselves. Make no mistake, SB 1220 is a fascist bill that is designed to silence critics and further oppress groups of people the state has already historically sought to disenfranchise.

It’s also incredibly unconstitutional, but the Roberts Court has given fascists every reason to think that they will do the bidding of their fellow Republicans, precedent and rule of law be damned.

Once again, for the cheap seats in the back: TRUE STATEMENTS ARE, CATEGORICALLY, NOT DEFAMATORY. But Garcia’s immediate jump to legal threats tells you exactly where she stands: She will use the legal system to silence her critics, even if she has to change the law to do it.

So that’s fun …

I always enjoy mocking this particular version of stupid bullshit. For whatever reason, it seems to be my sweet spot (luv u, Bob Murray, Diamond & Silk, and my buddies Monty and Steve). And while I do appreciate the entertainment, these kinds of lawsuits and threats are actually a huge problem in our legal system.

Because this isn’t just about one or two hilariously batshit cases. Using completely meritless lawsuits to try to shut up people who disagree with you is now a common tactic of politicians, the mega-rich, and other powerful people. From Donald Trump and Devin Nunes to Don Blankenship and Bob Murray, abusing the legal system to stifle free speech has become an everyday.

Just to get in on the fun, on Tuesday Utah Senator Mike Lee, otherwise known for his efforts to stage a coup, tweeted that it was defamation to report true facts about Clarence Thomas’s corruption.

Lee also showed his ass in this tweet (not literally, thank god). In addition to being just entirely wrong about the definition of defamation, the freedom-loving senator also made it a point to criticize New York Times v. Sullivan, the case that made it harder for public figures to sue people for being mean to them. For years, far-right looney toons like Lee and Donald Trump have been openly saying they want to be able to use the legal system to attack people for criticizing them. Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch have already written that they want to overturn Sullivan, because powerful men should be able to do whatever they want.

Now, it looks like Lee is even saying we should change the definition of defamation to include true facts. That is, emphatically, not a thing, but with this Supreme Court, who the fuck knows.

The American legal system is already set up to work for the rich and only the rich. Even when a lawsuit is entirely meritless, the people defending a defamation, libel, or slander lawsuit usually have to pay their own attorneys’ fees — and even if you get a lawsuit dismissed at an early stage, several hundred dollars an hour adds up quickly.

These kinds of lawsuits and threats also pose the danger of simply stifling critical speech before it is uttered. Most of the time, scaring people into silence is the entire point of suing in the first place. Small local news outlets, independent journalists, activists, and everyday citizens alike must be free to criticize public officials and public policy decisions.

Speaking truth to power is exactly the kind of thing the American legal system should protect, not punish.

As the Supreme Court held in Sullivan, the United States has

“a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

Free speech is something Americans should be proud of and fiercely protect. Even people we don’t like have the constitutional right to be assholes. Like Mike Lee!

[ Complaint ]

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There’s A Pube On Clarence Thomas’s Integrity (Again)

Conscientious Americans who pay attention to the news know Clarence Thomas is probably the most corrupt and unethical piece of ass lint who ever sat on a Supreme Court throne and stank it up with his linty assfarts. And his wife? Fuuuuuuuuck that crazy batshit nutcase who’s on every “OK Boomer” right-wing chain email thread in high-powered Republican Washington.

Did she help behind the scenes in Donald Trump’s January 6 Insurrection Attack, and did she bring a crock pot full of Ro-Tel to any planning parties? And how much whispering does she do with her husband when the issues she’s doing activism on are ALSO in front of him on the entirely illegitimate partisan hack Supreme Court?

But sure, let’s pretend Clarence Thomas and Ginni Thomas don’t have any ethical issues. They just are a high-powered married Republican couple who happen to both be literal actual fucking monsters. And don’t you dare say Ginni Thomas’s power may be somewhat derived from the fact that her husband is Clarence Thomas, STOP IT YOU SEXIST.


But anyway, about that ProPublica piece about Clarence Thomas letting a Republican billionaire megadonor take him on mega-luxury yachting suck ‘n’ fucks around the globe for the past 20 years, without reporting any of these mega-trips as “gifts.” Hoo boy! (Obviously we use the term “yachting suck ‘n’ fucks” in its more proverbial sense. We don’t know if anybody literally sucked and fucked on any of those trips, one of which would have cost the justice over $500,000 had he paid for it himself.)

The billionaire megadonor’s name is Harlan Crow, and he is a real estate mogul dude from Texas. Clarence Thomas gets to take rides on Harlan’s 162-foot superyacht. (Does Clarence Thomas ever say “Harlan, there’s a pube on your super-yacht?” Don’t know, ProPublica apparently doesn’t even know which journalism questions to ask.) Clarence Thomas goes flying on Harlan’s private Bombardier Global 5000 jet. (“Harlan, there’s a pube on your Bombardier Global 5000 jet!” Has Thomas ever exclaimed that? Probably won’t ever know.)

Yachting around Indonesia for nine days in 2019. A river trip in Savannah, Georgia. Another cruise in New Zealand around 10 years ago. And more!

There are so many pictures:

ProPublica says Clarence goes all kinds of other fun places with Harlan, like the “all-male retreat” of Bohemian Grove in California. Also all Harlan’s houses and resorts.

And Clarence doesn’t report any of this as “gift.” He used to report this as “gift.” But then the LA Times wrote about it and he all of a sudden stopped reporting it as “gift”!

Look, it is a paint-by-numbers portrait of Clarence Thomas sitting with all his friends at Harlan’s place in the Adirondacks. Just Clarence, Harlan, Leonard Leo, the POS who runs the Federalist Society. (You know, where the 30-year-old white fascist partisan hack judges come from!)

“There’s a pube on our integrity!” That would be a good name for that painting. Also, just emphasizing that that is literally a painting that exists.

The ProPublica Twitter thread we’re using as the CliffsNotes for this — you know damn well ProPublica’s articles are 100,000 words long before you even get out of the prologue — notes that Clarence ‘n’ Harlan really are buddies, genuine-style, but these trips put him in contact with the biggest of the Republican bigwigs from corporations and think tanks. (See above.) Far be it from us to suggest that any of those men tell Clarence what to do, because again, we’re willing to allow for the possibility that he too is just an evil monster just like them. We’re not going to say they don’t do that, though.

It sounds like a nice private resort, the one that Harlan has and Clarence gets to go to without reporting it.

We’re just going to give you a moment to reflect on the man who Clarence Thomas is, sitting at a “1950’s-style soda fountain” with all his white fascist friends. Just let that mental image linger for a minute.


Here is a clip a lot of people are loving right now because it’s such a hilarious illustration of how hard Clarence Thomas should go fuck himself. It’s Thomas in a recent documentary talking about how he doesn’t even like traveling abroad, such a simple man is he. He is a salt-of-the-earth guy. He is a rural America guy. He is a guy who likes parking the RV in the Walmart parking lot. (If you are not initiated in RV culture, the Walmart parking lot is a thing with them. Walmart encourages them to just to come on in and park when they need to, and RV people all know this. The editrix of this site and her husband and their kids have done it many times and thought “boy what a smart thing to do Walmart,” not even being shitty and ironic. Like we said, it is a thing.)

Who NEEDS free trips on gabillion dollar yachts with Republican bigwigs who definitely have a stake in how Clarence Thomas votes? Not Clarence Thomas! “I prefer the RV parks. I prefer the Walmart parking lots to the beaches and things like that.”

We bet.

But he sure doesn’t seem to hate those sexy yachtfucker trips. And for some reason, again, he feels a need to hide them. ProPublica had to learn about all this shit from yacht employees and a scuba diving instructor.

Of course, hiding these free trips is against the fucking law.

Harlan Crow of course swears to Jesus that he ain’t never tried to make poor Clarence do nothin’ improper. He just loves sharing his yacht and plane with Clarence ‘n’ Ginni. Clarence Thomas didn’t deem these revelations to be worthy of a response. But ProPublica got comments from former federal judges like “It’s incomprehensible that someone would do this.”

Anyway, if you read the whole story, there are tons more little details that will make your jaw drop. Like this one, a picture of Clarence Thomas swearing in Trump-appointed Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho in Harlan’s library, and it looks like maybe Harlan flew Clarence there, and Ted Cruz tweeted this out, and good God this is all so incestuous:

Read the entire ProPublica piece when you have time, like maybe when you are summering on YOUR yacht and you’re waiting for your new butler to bring you your mid-afternoon fruity drink. (You threw your old butler overboard for failing to cut your lime the way you like. It happens, AMIRITE, JUSTICE THOMAS?)

(We don’t mean to imply that Clarence Thomas threw a specific butler overboard into the ocean for failing to cut a lime the way he likes. We are just talking shit.)

Now, in a sane and functional country, Clarence Thomas would be packing up his office and getting the fuck out right now, to save himself the humiliation of being impeached and forcibly removed from the Supreme Court. (Haha, in a sane and functional country, an unqualified right-wing hack like Clarence Thomas would never have been confirmed.)

And Senate Democrats do say they’re gonna do something.

Unfortunately, that’s as far as it’s likely to go, because an unprincipled power-hungry Republican slut named Kevin McCarthy runs the House of Representatives right now. But it’s not just that. Click on this thread and read the whole thing to see why:

“One Democratic House member” told Democratic strategist Max Burns that “Public trust in SC is already bad. A big circus would destroy it completely.”

Fuck OFF.

The Court is fully 1,000 percent illegitimate right now, a fascist activist partisan hack organ that only exists to impose the will of a rapidly dying minority of white supremacist Boomers on the rest of us who will have to live in this country once they’re all rotting corpses. Donald Trump and his loyal Republican string-pullers made sure of that. The only place the Supreme Court’s integrity can go is up.

If the Court is ever to be legitimate again, Thomas should either resign or be pushed out, and Joe Biden should get to select his replacement. And since Trump was an illegitimate president who likely wouldn’t have “won” the 2016 election had it not been for his own crimes, the crimes of Russia and whatever was happening at the FBI at the time, and who then incited a terrorist attack as part of his plan to overthrow the government and overturn the 2020 election, his justices should be told gently but firmly to GTFO.

Then pack the Court with only the most brilliant legal minds in America who also happen to be drag queens, trans folks, racial minorities and people who started drinking Bud Light this week.

It is the only way.


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#Pube #Clarence #Thomass #Integrity