Clarence Thomas fails to disclose 3 Harlan Crow trips, Senate records show

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose three trips that were paid for by GOP mega-donor Harlan Crow, according to information obtained by the Senate Judiciary Committee and released Thursday.

According to the panel, Thomas did not disclose information on three trips he took on private jets funded by Crow: a trip from St. Louis to Montana and back to Dallas in 2017; round-trip travel from Washington to Savannah, Ga., in 2019; and round-trip travel from Washington to San Jose in 2021.

The information was obtained through documents and information that Crow delivered to the committee dating back seven years.

Also included in the trove of Crow’s documents was information about the 2019 trips to Indonesia and California, which included private jet travel for both and an eight-day yacht excursion in Bali. The committee noted that a recent report totaled the gifts Thomas has received at nearly $4.2 million, far exceeding the totals of other justices.

“Nearly $4.2 million in gifts and even that wasn’t enough for Justice Thomas, with at least three additional trips the Committee found that he has failed to disclose to date,” Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Supreme Court’s ethical crisis is producing new information — like what we’ve revealed today — and makes it crystal clear that the highest court needs an enforceable code of conduct, because its members continue to choose not to meet the moment.”

Thomas, through an attorney, pushed back on the allegations.

Elliot S. Berke, an attorney for Thomas, said the information disclosed by Crow fell under the “personal hospitality exemption” and was not required to be disclosed.

“The Judicial Conference changed this provision last year, and Justice Thomas has fully complied with the new disclosure requirement,” Berke said in a statement. “Prior to this change, the provision, set forth in the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts’ Guide to Judiciary Policy, stated that federal judges should not report gifts of personal hospitality based on personal relationships.”

“Consequently, and as Justice Thomas has already explained, he and many other federal judges were advised that they were not required to report gifts of personal hospitality from friends who did not have business before the Court.”

Durbin also noted that the information from Crow was obtained due to the subpoena the panel moved ahead with over mounting questions about the gifts received by justices.

“As a result of our investigation and subpoena authorization, we are providing the American public greater clarity on the extent of ethical lapses by Supreme Court justices and the need for ethics reform,” Durbin said.

“Despite an approval rating near all-time lows and never-ending, self-inflicted scandals, Chief Justice [John Roberts] still refuses to use his existing authority to implement an enforceable code of conduct,” the No. 2 Senate Democrat continued. “Until he acts, we will continue our push for the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act to become law.”

Shortly before the committee’s revelations were unveiled, Crow’s office issued a statement noting he agreed to hand over seven years worth of documents and information in exchange for the panel ending its probe into the billionaire Republican donor.

“Mr. Crow reached an agreement with the Senate Judiciary Committee to provide information responsive to its requests going back seven years,” the statement from Crow’s office read. “Despite his serious and continued concerns about the legality and necessity of the inquiry, Mr. Crow engaged in good faith negotiations with the Committee from the beginning to resolve the matter.”

“As a condition of this agreement, the Committee agreed to end its probe with respect to Mr. Crow,” it continued.

Durbin earlier in the week teased that there “may be some new evidence that comes out” in the coming days but declined to say anything further. He denied that it would have anything to do with recently released recordings of conversations between Justice Samuel Alito and an undercover left-wing filmmaker.

“It relates to the ethical considerations from some of the justices for gifts they’ve taken and not reported,” he said Monday.

The latest revelation comes amid the ongoing Democratic effort to pass a Supreme Court ethics package. Democrats tried to move the bill, authored by Durbin and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), on the floor via unanimous consent, but it was blocked by Republicans.

Updated at 6:33 p.m. ET

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