Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) abruptly ended a hearing to issue subpoenas attacking Clarence Thomas without a vote. The targets were Harlan Crow, Thomas’ billionaire friend and most generous benefactor, and Leonard Leo, Republicans’ go-to expert for picking Supreme Court Justices. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) threatened a laundry list of retaliatory subpoenas should the Democrats follow their plan. She had detailed Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s use of Court staff to facilitate her $4 million in book sales and threatened to haul those connected before the committee.
Clarence Thomas, Hostile Witness
It was the second time Sen. Durbin brought up the subpoenas at a US Senate Committee on the Judiciary business meeting. He and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, another Democrat, have been using their committee positions to advance the left’s blitzkrieg attack on the conservative justice. A week before, Durbin announced his intention to issue subpoenas against Messrs. Crow and Leo but did not press for a vote. At that hearing, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said Democrats’ true purpose was clear – engineering a confrontation with Justice Clarence Thomas as a witness. He said:
“No one in the Milky Way, with the possible exception of one of Hunter’s hookers, believes that all you’re interested in is a few documents. Is your endgame to subpoena Clarence Thomas and make him appear before the Judiciary Committee?”
Durbin didn’t deny it. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the ranking minority member, warned Durbin that the committee would change this week: “It’s going to be harder, not easier. This is the fight you want, you’re going to get it.”
Remember, Remember the Ninth of November
“It’s gonna be a long day, we’re gonna get zero done. You’re gonna have a complete sh-t show.” That was Graham on November 9. He told his colleagues across the aisle to be careful what they wished for: “you’ve opened up Pandora’s Box and you’ll get a look into it.” He said there was a “pent up demand for information” on their side, and then Sen. Blackburn detailed just what the Republicans would do in response.
She talked about Justice Sotomayor’s use of court staff to pressure public entities to buy her books. The justice uses her taxpayer-funded legal help to manage the sales and distribution of her books, from which she has made a small fortune. Blackburn discussed how the liberal justice also refused to recuse herself from copyright cases involving her publisher. The senator said she would ask for subpoenas for the publishing people and court staffers to get to the bottom of Sotomayor’s scandal. And that wasn’t all:
“And since we’re in the business of issuing subpoenas, now here are a few more that I filed: a subpoena to Jeffrey Epstein’s estate to provide the flight logs for his private plane. Given the numerous allegations of human trafficking and sexual abuse surrounding Mr. Epstein. I think it is very important that we identify everybody that was on that plane and how many trips they took on that plane and the destinations to which they arrived.”
Were the threats to drag in Sotomayor’s staff or Epstein’s flight logs that made Durbin pull the ejection lever and cancel the vote? Without comment or ceremony, he adjourned the meeting as if the subpoena issue had never been raised in the first place. Later, he posted on social media: “Due to scheduling issues, we were unable to complete the markup today. We will continue our efforts to authorize subpoenas in the near future.” The committee has another executive business meeting scheduled for next Thursday, November 16.