Justice Clarence Thomas has secretly accepted millions of dollars worth of gifts from conservative billionaires for decades. But a group of his former clerks is insisting that Thomas has a spotless ethics record — a group that includes ethically dubious former Donald Trump attorney John Eastman, who is currently awaiting trial for his participation in Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
This week, over 100 former clerks for Thomas signed a glowing open letter saying that Thomas’s “integrity is unimpeachable” and his “independence is unshakeable.” They say that recent reports unveiling the ways that conservative activists have greatly enhanced Thomas’s personal life are “malicious” “attacks” on his character and ethics.
John C. Eastman was one of the signatories of this impassioned message — the same Eastman who was booked in a Georgia jail last week in relation to nine charges related to his role in orchestrating a plan to employ then-Vice President Mike Pence to install Trump as president in 2020. Eastman, who played a central role in Trump’s plot to wage a coup, has been charged with soliciting a violation of oath by a public officer, as well as filing false documents and a host of conspiracies to commit forgery and false statements.
Eastman is also named in Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith’s sprawling indictment of Trump over his attempt to overturn the 2020 election as an unnamed co-conspirator who pressured Pence to reject the results or at least interrupt the process of certifying states’ election results.
Additionally, Eastman is currently at risk of losing his law license in a case assembled by the California State Bar.
Being accused of a crime alone does not automatically call one’s integrity or ethics, or ability to recognize upstanding ethics, into question. But orchestrating a coup to invalidate the will of hundreds of millions of voters to install a fascist raises red flags.
Further, legal experts noted that Eastman essentially admitted his guilt in an interview on Fox News this week. “What I recommended,” Eastman said, was for Pence to give state legislators in swing states “a week to try and sort out the impact of what everybody acknowledged was illegality in the conduct of the election.” There is zero evidence of widespread illegality in the administration of the 2020 election.
The interview was done with Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham, who also signed on to the letter.
Other signatories include James C. Ho, a Fifth Circuit judge sworn in at Harlan Crow’s library by Thomas; Ho recently argued that abortions cause doctors “aesthetic injury” because babies are fun to look at. Also listed as a signatory is Carrie Severino, president of the Leonard Leo-tied Judicial Crisis Network.
The letter uses flowery language to tell Thomas’s life story. “This is the story of Justice Clarence Thomas. It is a story that should be told in every American classroom, at every American kitchen table, in every anthology of American dreams realized,” the letter reads. “Walk the halls, and you’ll hear his laugh. Call, and he answers. His grandfather’s sayings become our sayings.”
These stiff personal anecdotes are meant to serve as a rebuttal to the fact that Thomas has taken dozens of private jet flights and destination vacations as gifts from conservative billionaires, as well as VIP passes to sporting events, yacht trips and a $267,000 recreational vehicle underwritten by a wealthy health care tycoon.
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