Billionaire Harlan Crow may be living in utter terror.
Emerging details about his long-term financial support and relationship with Justice Clarence Thomas have outraged many Americans.
Crow’s reputation has taken a massive hit because of it.
He may also be vulnerable to potential criminal charges if Crow purposefully “bought” a vote on an issue by making a gift conditioned on a ruling.
Crow could be trying to protect Thomas and his guaranteed automatic conservative vote on the Court.
Thus, Crow has every reason to fear a congressional investigation.
Perhaps in an attempt to head off an investigation, Crow’s attorney, Michael Bopp, has proposed a meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee staff, according to Associated Press reports.
The proposal to meet with staff is a surprise, given that Crow rejected the Judiciary Committee’s request last month to provide the Committee with more information on the relationship. As reported by CBS News last month:
“We do not believe the committee has the authority to investigate Mr. Crow’s personal friendship with Justice Clarence Thomas,” read the letter from Crow’s lawyers.
“Most importantly, Congress does not have the constitutional power to impose ethics rules and standards on the Supreme Court.”
One has every right to question whether Bopp believes it is more important to state that Congress doesn’t have the power to impose ethical rules or standards on the Supreme Court.
Bopp represents Crow. Logic dictates that he’s far more worried about Congress’s authority to investigate Thomas, which could implicate Crow all the way up to criminal charges.
The assertion that Congress doesn’t have the right to investigate the “personal friendship” with Justice Thomas is carefully worded… and ridiculous.
Congress has the right to impeach Supreme Court justices.
The Constitutional right to impeach Supreme Court justices necessarily includes the right to investigate whether the justice deserves impeachment.
Bopp wrote that Congress doesn’t have the right to investigate the “friendship.”
But if the “friendship” resulted in lavish gifts and rulings in accord with Crow’s wishes, Congress has every right to investigate the friendship.
This would also explain the letter and offer to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee staff.
Note that Crow is not offering to testify to the committee.
His lawyer is proposing a meeting with Committee lawyers and investigators.
Bopp may be attempting to head off the Committee calling Harlan Crow as a witness in an investigation of Thomas.
It may also be an attempt to control the narrative.
After all, the carefully-worded letter states that Congress can’t investigate the “friendship.”
By all outward appearances, the friendship is part transactional.
As Harlan Crow’s own Congresswoman, Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) stated on Sunday in front of this writer:
“Harlan Crow’s relationship with Justice Thomas has come under scrutiny only by those who care about ethics. We used to abide by a little thing when I practiced law that basically said that, ‘If it appears to be problematic, then it probably is problematic.'”
Rep. Crockett made the statement in Revchron Park in Dallas, literally down the street from Harlan Crow’s Dallas home in the Highland Park neighborhood.
Perhaps Crow feels the temperature rising and knows that even more explosive details may come to light.
He must be worried at some level.
Very few people direct their lawyers to offer to meet with a Senate Committee and issue statements about Congress’s right to investigate a “friendship.”
The Committee isn’t interested in friendships.
The Committee is interested in transactions.
It is irrelevant if the transactions were based on true friendship or in mutually beneficial business dealings.
And the Senate Committee is not going to allow Crow’s lawyer to control the narrative or the parameters of the investigation.
This story was underwritten by the Just Majority campaign with funding from a 501c3 nonprofit charity. See full disclosure.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @JasonMiciak.
Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.