Editor’s note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, hosts the daily SiriusXM radio program The Dean Obeidallah Show. Follow him @[email protected]. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinions on CNN.
On Monday, the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Donald Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan, is due to hold offsite hearing in New York under the title “Victims of Violent Crimes in Manhattan”. Statement declares the hearing an investigation into how, according to the Judiciary Committee, the policies of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “led to an increase in violent crime and a dangerous community for New Yorkers.”
In response, Bragg’s office criticized Jordan’s hearing, calling it “political trickwhile noting that data released by the New York City Police Department shows that crime in Manhattan has declined for homicides, burglaries, robberies and more through April 2 compared to the same period last year.
In fact, this Jordan-led hearing is not about stopping crime, but about protecting Trump, who was recently indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on 34 felony charges. Trump pleaded not guilty to criminal charges brought in connection with an investigation into the silent payment of an adult film actress. The former president is also facing criminal investigations in other jurisdictions over attempts to cancel the 2020 elections and his handling of classified documents in Mar-a-Lago.
Last week, Bragg sued Jordan and his committee in federal court, accusing the chairman of the Judiciary Committee of a “transparent campaign of intimidation and attacks” on his office for investigating and prosecuting Trump by demanding confidential documents and testimony.
While Jordan and his committee seem focused on discrediting the Trump investigation, why aren’t they looking into two recent high-profile ProPublica reports that raised red flags about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s financial dealings with GOP mega-donor Harlan Crowe? After all, the House Judiciary Committee Web site clarifies that it has jurisdiction over “matters relating to the administration of justice in federal courts,” for which Thomas disclosures are ideal.
First, in early April, we learned that Crowe had provided Thomas and his wife Ginny with luxurious vacations for decades, including on donor yacht and private jet to distant places like Indonesia and New Zealand. This information has never been made public. (In a rare public statement, Thomas responded that he was advised at the time not to report travel. The judge said the rules for reporting personal hospitality had recently changed. “And of course I intend to follow that guidance in the future,” he said. )
Then on Thursday, ProPublica reported that Thomas failed to disclose a 2014 real estate deal involving the sale of three properties he and his family owned in Savannah, Georgia, to the same GOP mega-donor, Crowe. One of Crowe’s companies made $133,363 worth of purchases, according to ProPublica. Federal Disclosure Law was passed after Watergate required Supreme Court justices and other officials to release details of most real estate sales over $1,000.
How ProPublica In detail, the federal disclosure form that Thomas filed this year included a space for the identity of the buyer in any private transaction, but Thomas left that space blank. Four ethicists told ProPublica that Thomas’ failure to report this was against the law. (Thomas did not respond to ProPublica’s questions about his report; CNN has reached out to the Supreme Court and Thomas for comment.)
The House Judiciary Committee has long dealt with issues such as those related to Thomas. In fact, the committee is the place where investigations and impeachment federal judges often start.
One recent example occurred in 2010 with a judge J. Thomas Porteous Jr.whom the committee investigated and recommended for impeachment.
Committee Task Force on Judicial Impeachment said evidence showed that Porteous “deliberately made substantial false statements and representations under penalty of perjury, engaged in a corrupt kickback scheme, solicited and accepted illegal gifts, and deliberately misled the Senate during his confirmation proceedings.” The Senate later convicted Porteous of four articles of impeachment and took him off the bench.
However, the Judicial Committee has no released statements neither tweets raising the alarm about Thomas. Instead, his Twitter feed is full repetitive tweets whining that C-SPAN does not cover Field hearing in New York on Monday. Even worse, the committee retweeted the Republican Party. Mary Miller rep tweet defending Thomas as being attacked “because he is a man of deep faith who loves our country and believes in our Constitution”.
Jordan’s use of his committee to help Trump should come as no surprise. The January 6 House committee report called the Ohio Republican a “Republican.”an important player in President Trump’s efforts‘ to cancel the election. The report details the lawmaker’s efforts to help Trump, including “January 2, 2021 The representative of Jordan chaired conference call where he, President Trump, and other members of Congress discussed strategies to reschedule the Jan. 6 joint meeting.” As a result, the committee subpoenaed Jordan on January 6 to testify, but he refused to cooperate.
Unlike the House committee, the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee announced after the Thomas story that it plans to hold a hearing “on the need to restore confidence in the ethical standards of the Supreme Court.” In addition, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia. sent a letter on Friday calling for transferring Thomas to the U.S. Attorney General for “potential violations of the Government Ethics Act of 1978”.
House Judiciary Committee website notes, “Committee on the Judiciary was named House Counsel.” Under Jordan, this description needs to be updated to indicate that the Judiciary Committee is now “Donald J. Trump’s attorney.” And worst of all, it’s the taxpayers who are paying for Jordan’s work on Trump’s behalf.