At least eight of the 16 Georgia Republicans who convened in December 2020 to declare Donald Trump the winner of the presidential contest despite his loss in the state have accepted immunity deals from Atlanta-area prosecutors investigating alleged election interference, according to a lawyer for the electors.
Prosecutors with the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) told the eight that they will not be charged with crimes if they testify truthfully in her sprawling investigation into efforts by Trump, his campaign and his allies to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, according to a brief filed Friday in Fulton County Superior Court by defense attorney Kimberly Bourroughs Debrow.
Willis has said that the meeting of Trump’s electors on Dec. 14, 2020, despite Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s certification of Biden’s win, is a key target of her investigation, along with Trump’s phone calls to multiple state officials and his campaign’s potential involvement in an unauthorized breach of election equipment in rural Coffee County, Ga.
Georgia was among seven states where the Trump campaign and local GOP officials arranged for alternate electors to convene with the stated purpose of preserving legal recourse while election challenges made their way through the courts. Among the questions both Willis and federal investigators have explored is whether the appointment of alternate electors and the creation of elector certificates broke the law. Another question is whether Trump campaign officials and allies initiated the strategy as part of a larger effort to overturn Biden’s overall victory during the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.
The news that some — but likely not all — of the electors will not be charged raises new questions about the scope of Willis’s examination of the meeting of electors, all of whom she had previously identified as criminal targets in her investigation. The electors who accepted immunity did so without any promise that they would offer incriminating evidence in return, and they all have stated that they remain unified in their innocence and are not aware of any criminal activity among any of the electors, Debrow said.
“In telling the truth they continue to say they have done nothing wrong and they are not aware of anyone else doing anything wrong, much less criminal,” said an individual familiar with the investigation who requested anonymity to discuss the case.
Among the electors who appear to remain targets are David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party who presided over the gathering, and Shawn Still, a state senator who at the time was state finance chair for the party and who told congressional investigators he played a role confirming electors’ identities and admitting them into the room at the Georgia Capitol where they convened.
None of the electors responded to efforts by The Washington Post to reach them. Shafer has denied that convening to cast electoral votes for Trump was a crime, saying repeatedly — including during the gathering itself — that the electors were meeting on a contingency basis to preserve Trump’s legal remedy in the event that he prevailed in an ongoing lawsuit challenging the Georgia result.
Friday, May 5, 2023
More corruption was revealed today involving Justice Clarence Thomas being bought like the puppet he is. First up, Right-wing billionaire and Nazi memorabilia enthusiast Harlan Crow paid for years of tuition for Thomas's grandnephew to attend a private boarding schools.
In 2008, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas decided to send his teenage grandnephew to Hidden Lake Academy, a private boarding school in the foothills of northern Georgia. The boy, Mark Martin, was far from home. For the previous decade, he had lived with the justice and his wife in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Thomas had taken legal custody of Martin when he was 6 years old and had recently told an interviewer he was “raising him as a son.”
Tuition at the boarding school ran more than $6,000 a month. But Thomas did not cover the bill. A bank statement for the school from July 2009, buried in unrelated court filings, shows the source of Martin’s tuition payment for that month: the company of billionaire real estate magnate Harlan Crow.
The payments extended beyond that month, according to Christopher Grimwood, a former administrator at the school. Crow paid Martin’s tuition the entire time he was a student there, which was about a year, Grimwood told ProPublica.
“Harlan picked up the tab,” said Grimwood, who got to know Crow and the Thomases and had access to school financial information through his work as an administrator.
Before and after his time at Hidden Lake, Martin attended a second boarding school, Randolph-Macon Academy in Virginia. “Harlan said he was paying for the tuition at Randolph-Macon Academy as well,” Grimwood said, recalling a conversation he had with Crow during a visit to the billionaire’s Adirondacks estate.
ProPublica interviewed Martin, his former classmates and former staff at both schools. The exact total Crow paid for Martin’s education over the years remains unclear. If he paid for all four years at the two schools, the price tag could have exceeded $150,000, according to public records of tuition rates at the schools.
Conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo arranged for the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to be paid tens of thousands of dollars for consulting work just over a decade ago, specifying that her name be left off billing paperwork, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post.
In January 2012, Leo instructed the GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway to bill a nonprofit group called the Judicial Education Project and use that money to pay Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the documents show. The same year, the Judicial Education Project filed a brief to the Supreme Court in a landmark voting rights case.
Leo, an adviser to the Judicial Education Project and a key figure in a network of nonprofits that has worked to support the nominations of conservative judges, told Conway that he wanted her to “give” Ginni Thomas “another $25K,” the documents show. He emphasized that the paperwork should have “No mention of Ginni, of course.”
Conway’s firm, the Polling Company, sent the Judicial Education Project a $25,000 bill that day. Per Leo’s instructions, it listed the purpose as “Supplement for Constitution Polling and Opinion Consulting,” the documents show.
In all, according to the documents, the Polling Company paid Thomas’s firm, Liberty Consulting, $80,000 between June 2011 and June 2012, and it expected to pay $20,000 more before the end of 2012. The documents reviewed by The Post do not indicate the precise nature of any work Thomas did for the Judicial Education Project or the Polling Company.
The arrangement reveals that Leo, a longtime Federalist Society leader and friend of the Thomases, has functioned not only as an ideological ally of Clarence Thomas’s but also has worked to provide financial remuneration to his family. And it shows Leo arranging for the money to be drawn from a nonprofit that soon would have an interest before the court.
In response to questions from The Post, Leo issued a statement defending the Thomases. “It is no secret that Ginni Thomas has a long history of working on issues within the conservative movement, and part of that work has involved gauging public attitudes and sentiment. The work she did here did not involve anything connected with either the Court’s business or with other legal issues,” he wrote. “As an advisor to JEP I have long been supportive of its opinion research relating to limited government, and The Polling Company, along with Ginni Thomas’s help, has been an invaluable resource for gauging public attitudes.”
Of the effort to keep Thomas’s name off paperwork, Leo said: “Knowing how disrespectful, malicious and gossipy people can be, I have always tried to protect the privacy of Justice Thomas and Ginni.”
Expectations heading into this morning showed projections of about 180,000 new jobs having been added in the United States in April. As it turns out, according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those projections turned out to understate what appears to be an extension of the hot job market. CNBC reported this morning:
Job growth fared better than expected in April despite bank turmoil and a decelerating economy, the Labor Department reported Friday. Nonfarm payrolls increased 253,000 for the month, beating Wall Street estimates for growth of 180,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate was 3.4% against an estimate for 3.6% and tied for the lowest level since 1969.
While the unemployment rate isn’t my favorite metric, it’s worth noting for context that in January 2021, when President Joe Biden was inaugurated, the unemployment rate was 6.3%. Now, it’s 3.4% — a level the United States did not reach at any point throughout the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. Before this year, the last time the jobless rate reached a figure this low was May 1969. (We hadn’t yet landed on the moon and Woodstock was still a few months away.)
I’m mindful of the chatter about whether the economy is in a recession, but by any reasonable measure, these are not recession-like conditions.
As for the politics, let’s circle back to previous coverage to put the data in perspective. Over the course of the first three years of Donald Trump’s presidency — when the Republican said the United States’ economy was the greatest in the history of the planet — the economy created roughly 6.35 million jobs, spanning all of 2017, 2018 and 2019.
According to the latest tally, the U.S. economy has created nearly 13.2 million jobs since January 2021 — roughly double the combined total of Trump’s first three years.