Today’s News Bits

CNN is reporting that Jack Smith has offered limited immunity to two Trump fake electors. Also,

Prosecutors have played hardball with some of the witnesses in recent weeks, refusing to grant extensions to grand jury subpoenas for testimony and demanding they comply before the end of this month, sources said. In the situations where prosecutors have given witnesses immunity, the special counsel’s office arrived at the courthouse in Washington ready to compel their testimony after the witnesses indicated they would decline to answer questions under the Fifth Amendment, the sources added.

Sounds like things are getting serious on that front.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett has some disclosure issues. A professor who had just taken a leadership role at the Religious Liberty Initiative (RLI) at Notre Dame Law School purchased Barrett’s private home months after she was sworn in in October 2020. This is the same group that hosted Justice Sam Alito at a conference in Rome last year, The one where he joked about the Dobbs decision. Ironically, Alito’s speech at the conference was about defending religious liberty. Anyway, according to several news stories the RLI has had several briefs before the court. In a little bit of googling I couldn’t find any positions they’ve taken that seemed terribly egregious. But it says something that Alito is the one they hosted at their big conference.

Do see Dahlia Lithwick, Justice Alito IS the Salmon.

The problem with continuing to frame the Harlan Crow/Barre Seid/Paul Singer stories as “ethics” issues is that we tend to think of “ethics” scandals in league with failures to use the correct shrimp fork. This is kind of what happened when we framed the great pay-to-play Supreme Court Historical Society caper that permitted one couple, the Wrights, to purchase access to the Alitos and the Scalias for the price of $125,000, as a “leak” story. We keep centering the justices and their “ethics” misfires at the expense of the real grifting here: Billionaires being assigned, like something out of the Big Brothers program, to individual justices for the purposes of lavish gift giving and influence.

Look again at ProPublica’s photos of Paul Singer, Antonin Scalia, Leonard Leo, and Samuel Alito and the Big Shiny Fishes they netted. If you think the fish is the trophy in this picture, you’re making a galactic-category error. The trophy is the justice. The vital question here is not why did Justice Alito agree to take the trip, because the trip sounds quite awesome. The question is why did Leo pick him to go, empty seat on the private jet notwithstanding, and why was building a friendship with someone who was in the literal business of reshaping the court to favor his own business so urgently necessary? …

… Nobody in this world enjoys hearing that they are the salmon. But that is why we don’t allow the salmon be the sole arbiter of whether they are the salmon. Let’s please stop framing this issue in terms of “ethics” and “friendships” and “honor.” It is a big-game safari for access to powerful people, and this game has been played since power was first invented. Naming this as an influence scheme clarifies the rules and it clarifies the stakes, and most of all, it clarifies the stench.

Do read the whole thing. Use a “private” window if you hit the paywall.