I’m reading a thing. The thing reads:
ANY INDIVIDUAL WHO KNOWINGLY AND WILLFULLY FALSIFIES OR FAILS TO FILE THIS REPORT MAY BE SUBJECT TO CIVIL AND CRIMINAL SANCTIONS (5 U.S.C. APP. § 104)
That little snippet of text appears immediately below the signature of Associate US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on his 2021 financial disclosure form.
That year’s form (and others), as you may have recently heard, did not disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in “hospitality” extended to Thomas and his wife, Ginny, over the years by billionaire Harlan Crow. Luxury vacations. Private jet flights. Buying Thomas’s mother’s home and letting her continue to live there rent-free. And so on, and so forth.
In other words, a whole bunch of things that most Republicans would call “bribes” if, they came from, say, George Soros and went to, say, Elena Kagan who, um, “forgot” to disclose them.
But hey, Thomas is going to “amend” those reports so that he’s no longer lying like a rug under penalty of law. So it’s all okay! It’s just those evil Democrats trying to make bribes … er, “secret hospitality” … look like something dishonest and nefarious.
Back in 2016, many Republicans rightly decried FBI director James Comey’s conclusion that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be prosecuted for grossly negligent mishandling of classified information, even though she had been fully briefed on her obligations, and acknowledged those briefings, and even though her conduct clearly and unambiguously violated the law … because she was HILLARY CLINTON.
Now, in 2023, many of those same Republicans are making precisely the same excuse for Clarence Thomas.
Sure, he’s been caught red-handed, after years on the take in an embarrassingly over the top way that should have been noticed long ago. But that’s not HIS fault, it’s the fault of those who noticed.
Impeach him? Prosecute him? At least harry him into resigning in disgrace? Why, we mustn’t do any of that. After all, he’s CLARENCE THOMAS. He got his Political Class membership card punched decades ago.
Holding him accountable to the same standards as mere mortals would send the wrong message. It would damage rule of law and equality before the law by implying that Thomas should be subject to the former or only enjoy the limited benefits that come with the latter.
Move along, peasants. Nothing to see here. Let the political class see to your interests. They’d never, ever dream of putting their own interests first.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:@thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.