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Barry Goldwater, considered a right-wing extremist and fringe candidate in 1964, won the 1964 Republican presidential nomination by declaring that "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice!" But the GOP is now way beyond the fringe, declaring that nuttiness in defense of extremism is no vice.

Consider Ginni Thomas. Her recent far-out political role in the effort to overthrow the people's 2020 presidential vote shows that her husband Clarence Thomas — the surly, reactionary dogmatist who has sat on the Supreme Court for 31 years — is not the nuttiest member of the Thomas household! He's the best known of the duo, but wife Ginni has quietly been moving into the top circle of unhinged political conspiracy activists.

Biden's defeat of Trump in 2020 set off this supremely connected partisan like an explosion in a fireworks factory. She spewed out a weeklong barrage of text messages to Trump's chief of staff demanding that Republicans use the Court to stop Congress from certifying Biden's victory. Ginni instructed her White House co-conspirators to "Release the Kraken." Huh? "Kraken," the name of a mythological sea monster, was used by manic right-wingers as a code name for a series of kooky lawsuits they hoped judges would use to put Trump back in power.

Ginni Thomas was not merely someone babbling free-speech opinions; she was an implementer, a powerful political plotter actively strategizing and organizing to have unelected judges — like Clarence — usurp the people's democratic authority. This was too crazy even for the right-wing Republicans now running the high court, but her effort did inadvertently expose an astonishing flaw in the Court's ethical structure. In a flagrant example of judicial conflict of interest, Justice Thomas used his position to try to advance election cases in which his spouse, partisan-activist Thomas, had a personal stake.

Was he punished for violating the ethics code? No, because — get this — the U.S. Supreme Court has no ethics code! None whatsoever. Trust us, say the mighty justices — each of us will be the judge of our own ethics.

As we've learned from painful experience, "governmental ethics" can be a slippery concept.

That's why We the People have insisted that every public official — from Congress critters to dogcatchers — swear to abide by some minimum standard of proper behavior. Not that all will honor it, but a code of ethics provides society with a measure of legal action against those who are grabbers and grifters.

How bizarre, then, that the nine members of our august Supreme Court, America's highest legal authority, have discretely refused to accept ethical rules. They claim they are the one group of public officials that don't need no stinkin' code because ... well, they are supreme! Chief Justice John Roberts assures us that he has "complete confidence" that each justice will always make the right ethical call on their own because "(t)hey are jurists of exceptional integrity and experience."

Does he think we have sucker wrappers around our heads? Some of these black-robed "honorables" regularly engage in the petty thievery of accepting all-expense-paid corporate trips to luxury resorts, membership in exclusive golf clubs and assorted "gifts" from special interests. Clarence Thomas is the current king of handouts, taking thousands of dollars in freebies, including such pedestrian gimmes as car tires and cigars. Thomas, a 31-year lifer on the court, draws $230,000 a year from taxpayers. Can't he buy his own cigars? No one would buy stuff for him — except to influence his decisions!

Most damning, though, is the grand larceny of the Court's six right-wing extremists, who've turned what's meant to be a citadel of democracy into a Republican rubber stamp for plutocracy. They've stolen the integrity of the Court itself, rigging their procedures and rulings to profit moneyed interests, suppress voting rights, hogtie workers and generally run roughshod over the needs and democratic ideals of America's majority.

To help stop this disgraceful corruption of justice by so-called justices, go to FixTheCourt.com.

Printed with permission from Creators.

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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