Justice Thomas received more lavish trips from more billionaires than previously known – National & International News – FRI 11Aug2023

Justice Thomas received more lavish trips from more billionaires than previously known.

AG elevates Hunter Biden prosecutor to special counsel.

Biden wants over $20 billion more for Ukraine.


Justice Thomas received more lavish trips from more billionaires than previously known

Yesterday, ProPublica released yet more revelations about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his lush billionaire-funded lifestyle. Starting in April, ProPublica has unleashed a series of damning exposés detailing numerous lavish travel gifts to Thomas from billionaire Harlan Crow. The outlet has now expanded the known circle of Thomas’ generous billionaire buddies to include David Sokol, a former executive at Berkshire Hathaway; oil magnate Paul “Tony” Novelly; H. Wayne Huizenga, a billionaire with three Fortune 500 companies under his belt.

Between Crow, Sokol, Novelly and Huizenga, Thomas has been treated to 38 luxury destination vacations; 26 flights on a private jet (including at least two on Huizenga’s private 737) and 8 flights on a helicopter; a dozen VIP passes to college and professional sporting events (complete with skybox); and a standing invitation to an ultra-exclusive Florida golf club owned by Huizenga, who once refused membership to Donald Trump. As Propublica’s authors put it, this is “almost certainly an undercount.”

Thomas only ever reported a handful of these gifts on his yearly mandatory financial disclosures.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the latest disclosures make it clear that “these are not merely ethical lapses. This is a shameless lifestyle underwritten for years by a gaggle of fawning billionaires”. Durbin is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has advanced legislation to impose a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices. However, this legislation has met stiff resistance from Republicans and has little chance of passing in the current Congress. Numerous Democratic lawmakers have called for Thomas to resign to spare the Court further embarrassment. 

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AG elevates Hunter Biden prosecutor to special counsel

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced today that he is granting special counsel status to the prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden. The President’s son is being investigated for tax evasion and a gun violation. Last month, a plea deal that would have allowed Biden to avoid jail time by admitting wrongdoing and paying a fine broke down when the judge in the case apparently rejected the plea deal. Biden then plead not guilty and the case has been in limbo.

With a trial now likely, Garland has appointed US Attorney David Weiss, a Trump appointee, as special counsel to oversee Biden’s case. Weiss was already leading the case and had helped negotiate the plea deal rejected by the judge. Special counsel status gives Weiss further leeway and independence from Garland, who is a political appointee of President Biden.

As of now, Department of Justice special counsels are now overseeing cases against a former president, a sitting president, and a sitting president’s son.

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Biden wants over $20 billion more for Ukraine. How much does that make so far?

President Biden is asking Congress for $20.4 billion in aid for Ukraine as part of a supplemental funding request. The total request is $40 billion and includes money for domestic spending as well, including for border enforcement, disaster relief and pay for firefighters.

Biden will likely have a fight on his hands with House Republicans. Since June, discontent has been growing among hardline Republicans over the budget cuts they were able to secure in a recent debt-ceiling showdown that nearly pushed the country into a dangerous debt default. Conservatives have also become increasingly critical of apparently unlimited US aid to Ukraine. This skepticism has increased in recent weeks after a much-vaunted and long-anticipated Ukrainian summer counteroffensive against entrenched Russian forces spectacularly to materialize.

Putting a price tag on US aid to Ukraine since the war began is no easy matter. Aid has been approved in drips and drabs at least monthly since the war began, and that’s before one accounts for regular budget items. Most counts put it at around $75 billion. But another count, one which takes relevant increases in US military expenditure into account, put it at $113 billion as of January 2023.


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