Lawyer for Harlan Crow agrees to meet with Senate panel on Clarence Thomas gifts

Thomas-Crow
Harlan Crow, the wealthy real estate developer who invited Justice Clarence Thomas on several paid luxury trips, says his friend is at the center of a “political hit job.” AP

Lawyer for Harlan Crow agrees to meet with Senate panel on Clarence Thomas gifts

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A lawyer for Republican billionaire donor Harlan Crow has offered to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee staff to discuss Crow’s interactions with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, according to a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner.

Michael Bopp, Crow’s attorney, told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) that he had concerns the panel does not have the authority to investigate Crow’s relationship with Thomas but agreed to meet with staff.

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“While the concerns we expressed in our Response about the Committee’s investigation remain, we respect the Senate Judiciary Committee’s important role in formulating legislation concerning our federal courts system, and would welcome a discussion with your staff,” Bopp wrote in the letter.

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Bopp’s most recent response and agreement to meet with Judiciary staff illustrates a new approach from Crow in dealing with the panel’s inquiry, in which they’ve acknowledged the panel’s right to oversight. However, Bopp reiterated that he does not believe the panel has any power to request such information from Crow, arguing, “Congress does not have the power to impose ethics standards on the Supreme Court.”

Thomas has been at the center of controversial allegations reported by ProPublica that he went on undisclosed trips at Crow’s expense and that Crow bought property that belonged to the justice’s family. The outlet also reported that the GOP donor bankrolled the private school tuition of Thomas’s grandnephew, who was raised by the justice “as a son.”

The letter from Bopp comes after Crow refused a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee to disclose information about Thomas’s relationship with Crow last month, writing that the panel doesn’t have the power to “investigate Mr. Crow’s personal relationship with Justice Clarence Thomas.”

In a follow-up letter dated May 26, Durbin and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) disputed Bopp’s arguments, arguing that he misunderstood the Senate’s oversight powers.

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“Your explanation rested on a flawed assessment of Congress’s Article I oversight authority; a cramped reading of Congress’s constitutional authority to legislate in the area of government ethics; and a wholly misplaced view of the separation of powers, a doctrine that is implicated when Congress requests information from coordinate branches of government, not private individuals,” Durbin and Whitehouse wrote. “You also repeatedly conflated personal hospitality with the use of corporate-owned property, which highlights one of the key issues the Committee seeks to address through legislation.”

Crow denied a request from the Senate Finance Committee to provide an itemized list of gifts he has given to Thomas by June 2.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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