Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “contradicted” the facts of recent allegations made against him in his own explanation, according to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat.
Thomas, who was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1991, is accused of taking numerous vacations with his wife, Ginni Thomas, over the past two decades paid for by billionaire Republican donor, Harlan Crow. The revelations, uncovered in an extensive report from ProPublica, prompted alarm from many observers that the gifts and payments from Crow violated Court rules and may have swayed the justice’s rulings on some cases.
In a response to the report, Thomas said he had simply been taking trips with Crow as a close personal friend. He added that he was advised early in his time on the Court that the trips did not rise to the level at which he should have reported them, and further pledged that he would do so in the future.
“Harlan and Kathy Crow are among our dearest friends, and we have been friends for over twenty-five years,” Thomas said in a statement previously obtained by Newsweek. “As friends do, we have joined them on a number of family trips during the more than quarter century we have known them. 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’ critics remain unconvinced by his explanation and are calling for further action against him, including possible impeachment proceedings. Among them is Ocasio-Cortez, who discussed the matter on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.
“I think that his own statement contradicts many of the facts on the ground, and also raises in other ways even more serious questions,” the Democratic congresswoman said. “Later on in his statement, he stated that the reason and the rationale for the exemption was ‘personal hospitality’ from an old friend. And he said himself in his statement, a friend of 25 years. Justice Thomas has been on the Court for [over] 30 years.”
She continued: “And so to say what he is admitting in his statement in an attempt to defend himself is that he began this relationship with a billionaire, and receiving these sorts of gifts, after he was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. I think that, in and of itself, indicates a very, very serious problem.”
Ocasio-Cortez further argued that Thomas’ explanation that he sought counsel from his colleagues about the relationship with Crow implicates other members of the Court. She said that Chief Justice John Roberts should come forward and say whether or not he believes situations like the one Thomas finds himself in are acceptable for justices on his Court.
The congresswoman has voiced support for bringing impeachment proceedings against Thomas, and said that she may draft articles herself if the process does not otherwise begin.
Newsweek reached out to the Supreme Court’s public information office via email for comment.