A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Makes You Miss Scalia
This is just an unbelievable course of conduct by a sitting justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Last evening a head-scratcher of an op-ed appeared in the conservative-friendly confines of the WSJ opinion page, authored by Justice Samuel Alito himself.
It turned out to be an effort by Alito to get ahead of an as-then-yet-to-be-published ProPublica investigative piece about unreported travel and accommodations Alito received on an Alaska fishing trip while a justice. ProPublica published its report later in the evening.
Rather than commenting to ProPublica when it reached out to him for its story, Alito ran to his buddies at the WSJ and launched his defense there, which included a broadside against ProPublica.
A sycophantic editor’s note sat atop the Alito op-ed, with snarky quotes impugning ProPublica (whose founder is former longtime WSJ managing editor Paul Steiger):
Editor’s note: Justin Elliott and Josh Kaplan of ProPublica, which styles itself “an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force,” emailed Justice Alito Friday with a series of questions and asked him to respond by noon EDT Tuesday. They informed the justice that “we do serious, fair, accurate reporting in the public interest and have won six Pulitzer Prizes.” Here is Justice Alito’s response:
(I should note that ProPublica reporter Justin Elliott is a TPM alum.)
The op-ed itself is classic Alito: a bundle of peevish insecurity, paranoid defensiveness, hyper-technical word play, and utter lack of self awareness.
My favorite Alito “defense” is his claim that the seat aboard billionaire Paul Singer’s private plane would have otherwise been unoccupied so no additional expense was involved in hauling Alito to Alaska:
the personal jet seat would have been UNOCCUPIED if Justice Alito hadn’t taken it! it would have been so lonely! don’t you see he HAD TO!!! pic.twitter.com/YCRSYE7pXS— Leah Litman – @leahlitman.bsky.social (@LeahLitman) June 20, 2023
I’ll let you dig in to the ProPublica piece and make your own judgment, in part so you can see the Alito fishing pics:
For what it’s worth, I read the ProPublica piece less as an indictment of Alito for failure to report or of the lax ethics rules binding Supreme Court justices and more as a window into the corrupt project to swing the court towards the right:
Leonard Leo, the longtime leader of the conservative Federalist Society, attended and helped organize the Alaska fishing vacation. Leo invited Singer to join, according to a person familiar with the trip, and asked Singer if he and Alito could fly on the billionaire’s jet. Leo had recently played an important role in the justice’s confirmation to the court. Singer and the lodge owner were both major donors to Leo’s political groups.
What it reads to me as: Leonard Leo was trotting out his newly confirmed show pony Samuel Alito in front of the megadonors who fund the conservative legal movement. No amount of ethics rules and regs will crack the foundational corruption of that effort.
GOP Pretends To Lose Its Mind Over Hunter Biden Conviction
The Justice Department is criminally charging the son of the sitting president after the prosecutor appointed by his political opponent was left in place and given extraordinary independence to pursue the case and make the ultimate charging decision – and yet here we go again:
That’s exactly how it played out, with Republicans continuing to politicize the Justice Department as a means of paving the way for their own malfeasance to come:
The speaker of the House, no less, led in the pretend-disbelief performed for public consumption.
The Deep State is at once all-powerful and feckless. Biden is both protecting his son and letting him be convicted. A failure to prosecute is corrupt. So is a decision to prosecute.
And around and around we go.
Eastman On The Hot Seat
I stumbled across this New Republic article, and it reads a bit differently with the benefit of hindsight:
Note the date.
Taking Eli Lake Down A Peg
Gabriel Schoenfeld: It’s Not the Law’s Fault that Trump Broke It
John Durham To Testify Today
Former Special Counsel John Durham, who led the spectacularly flawed investigation of the Mueller investigators, is set to testify today to the House Judiciary Committee, where he is likely to be welcomed with open arms by committee Republicans.
Poor George Santos
A judge has ordered the public release of the guarantors of the surety bond that is keeping Rep. George Santos (R-NY) out of jail pending his trial on federal fraud charges. The release is set for noon ET Thursday, giving time for the guarantors to withdraw and Santos to find other means of posting the bond. Stay tuned …
Arkansas Anti-Trans Bill Struck Down
A federal judge ruled that Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care for minors was unconstitutional.
Out Of Control PC …
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