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Dems Escalate Attacks On Justice Thomas, Demand Special Counsel

FILE - Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivers a keynote speech during a dedication of Georgia new Nathan Deal Judicial Center in Atlanta, Feb. 11, 2020. Reports that the wife of Thomas implored Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff to act to overturn the 2020 election results has put a spotlight on how justices decide whether to step aside from a case. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel to determine if Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas violated federal ethics and tax laws.

In the letter sent to Garland last week, the senators point to news reports revealing that Thomas did not disclose luxury trips or gifts over the past 20 years. Whitehouse and Wyden suggested that Thomas could be in violation of the Ethics in Government Act, which criminalizes a public servant for “knowingly and willfully” failing to file or report gifts and income from outside sources.

“The breadth of the omissions uncovered to date, and the serious possibility of additional tax fraud and false statement violations by Justice Thomas and his associates, warrant the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate this misconduct,” the lawmakers wrote.

Thomas has pushed back on accusations of ethical violations, saying he was told he did not have to report gifts he received from friends on his financial disclosures.

“Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable,” Thomas said in April 2023.

Whitehouse and Wyden also alleged that the justice could be found in violation of breaking tax laws since he did not pay the principal of a $267,230 loan, which was used to purchase a motorhome. Investigators in Wyden’s office said the loan was forgiven, raising questions of whether the Supreme Court justice actually reflected this fact in his tax records. However, Thomas’s lawyer said the loan was not forgiven and that Thomas has satisfied the terms.

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