A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Building on the recent ground-breaking work by ProPublica, the NYT added to the picture of the most senior justice on the Supreme Court with a Sunday piece titled: “Where Clarence Thomas Entered an Elite Circle and Opened a Door to the Court.”
The revelations in the latest piece may not be has glaringly problematic as ProPublica’s recent batch of Clarence Thomas stories, but in a way it paints a darker picture. Thomas has been accepting free stuff since well before he was confirmed to the Supreme Court:
- Bahama vacation: “A former girlfriend said in an interview that ‘a buddy’ of Justice Thomas had paid for their vacation in the Bahamas in the mid-1980s, when he was chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. … In the mid-1980s, divorced and with custody of his son, Justice Thomas dated a woman named Lillian McEwen. In an interview, she remembered the Bahamas vacation, at a house with a caretaker and a car. She never knew the identity of the ‘buddy’ footing the bill but understood it to be a professional contact because that was how the justice referred to such people, she said.”
- Wedding reception: “A longtime friend said he had paid for the justice’s 1987 wedding reception. … Not long after Ms. McEwen and Justice Thomas broke up, he met Virginia Lamp, known as Ginni. They married in 1987; Armstrong Williams, a close friend from Justice Thomas’s earliest days in Washington who is now a conservative commentator, said in an interview that he paid for their wedding reception.”
The bulk of the NYT piece is focused on Thomas’ affiliation with something called the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, which offered mutual access between Thomas and “extraordinarily wealthy, largely conservative members who lionized him and all that he had achieved.” That led to additional freebies of the kind ProPublica has previously documented. But again, Thomas’ willingness to accept such largesse appears to well pre-date his ascension to the high court.
Always Read Linda Greenhouse
The former NYT Supreme Court reporter: Look at What John Roberts and His Court Have Wrought Over 18 Years
House GOP Targets Chris Wray This Week
FBI Director Christopher Wray is scheduled to appear Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee, where the House GOP’s assault on the rule of law and on an independent Justice Department will continue.
The committee itself says it will use the Wray hearing to “examine the politicization of the nation’s preeminent law enforcement agency under the direction of FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland.”
To give you a flavor of the right-wing attack plan here, check out the conservative Washington Examiner’s “Seven unanswered questions ahead of FBI Director Wray’s testimony”:
- Why did the FBI withhold the FD-1023 from Congress?
- Why did the FBI’s Washington field office conduct the raid of Mar-a-Lago, in a break from standard practice?
- Why did the FBI limit the number of witnesses who IRS investigators could contact during the Hunter Biden investigation?
- What has the FBI done to investigate attacks on anti-abortion centers and churches?
- Are agents who worked on the Russia investigation still at the FBI?
- How closely has the FBI worked with social media companies to censor speech?
- Has Merrick Garland ever asked you to stand down on an investigative step?
Alright, we’re back from that dip into wingnut-o-sphere. You okay? We’ve got one more …
My Head Hurts
The REAL Weaponization
John F. Kelly, who served as former President Donald J. Trump’s second White House chief of staff, said in a sworn statement that Mr. Trump had discussed having the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies investigate two F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. …
“President Trump questioned whether investigations by the Internal Revenue Service or other federal agencies should be undertaken into Mr. Strzok and/or Ms. Page,” Mr. Kelly said in the statement. “I do not know of President Trump ordering such an investigation. It appeared, however, that he wanted to see Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page investigated.”
This Week In Trump Prosecutions …
Today: Trump is due to respond to the government’s request to continue the Mar-a-Lago until January 2024. This will be Trump’s first bite at trying to delay the trial until after the 2024 election.
Friday: A hearing is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in the Mar-a-Lago case to address pre-trial matters related to the use of classified information. This hearing may provide an early indication of how quickly – or not – Cannon will move the case along.
Lemme Fetch The World’s Tiniest Violin
Lin Wood, who just surrendered his law license rather than be disbarred, calls himself the “second-most persecuted person in America” after Donald Trump.
It’s Bad, Y’all
A July 4 injunction that places extraordinary limits on the government’s communications with tech companies undermines initiatives to harden social media companies against election interference, civil rights groups, academics and tech industry insiders say.
After companies and the federal government spent years expanding efforts to combat online falsehoods in the wake of Russian interference on the platforms during the 2016 election, the ruling is just the latest sign of the pendulum swinging in the other direction. Tech companies are gutting their content moderation staffs, researchers are pulling back from studying disinformation and key government communications with Silicon Valley are on pause amid unprecedented political scrutiny.
It Gets Weirder
Wagner boss Prigozhin met with Vladimir Putin after the failed mutiny last month, the Kremlin says.
For Your General Awareness …
- President Biden is in the UK Monday for meetings with the king and the prime minister ahead of a two-day NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. He’ll end the trip with a visit to Finland, NATO’s newest member.
- Congress is back for its final push before the long August break.
- NV-Sen: Republican Sam Brown will seek the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV). Brown, badly injured by an IED while serving in Afghanistan, lost in the GOP Senate primary last year. This time, the NRSC is already throwing its support to Brown, trying to avert another general election disaster where the party nominates an extremist. Big Lie aficionado Jim Marchant, who lost the secretary of state race last year, is the candidate the NRSC wants to pre-empt making it to the general election.
- Win it Back, a group with ties to the Club For Growth, is beginning a $3.6 million anti-Trump TV ad blitz in the early GOP primary states of Iowa and South Carolina.
- The New Yorker’s David Remnick interviews Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Sole Suspect In 1982 Tylenol Murders Has Died
James Lewis, the lone suspect in the 1982 Tylenol murders, was found dead Sunday at his home in suburban Boston, multiple law-enforcement sources confirmed to the Tribune.
His death comes after 40 years of intense scrutiny from law enforcement, in which Lewis played a cat-and-mouse game with investigators. Local authorities questioned him as recently as September as part of a renewed effort to bring charges in the case.
With the investigation’s only suspect dead, it now seems unlikely that charges will ever be brought in poisonings that killed seven people and caused a worldwide panic.
The Gelded Age?
I leave you this morning with Elon self-fiddling while the world burns:
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