Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
- SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas has been under scrutiny over his wife’s political activism.
- A number of Justice Thomas’s previous clerks have gone on to join or prop up the Trump sphere.
- Fox News host Laura Ingraham and ex-Trump lawyer John Eastman are among those who used to clerk for Thomas.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has faced growing ethical concerns from critics due to his wife Ginni Thomas’s political activism and participation in partisan politics — especially her support for former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
In January, Thomas held the lone dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court’s order rejecting a bid from former President Donald Trump to withhold presidential records from the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.
A number of people who at one point ran in Clarence Thomas’s circle went on to help prop up the former president — some of whom have been evoked during the January 6 House panel’s public hearings.
Conservative news host Laura Ingraham and former Trump lawyer John Eastman are among those who formerly clerked for the Supreme Court justice and now share ties with Trump.
While Thomas, who has served on the bench for more than 30 years since 1991, has had 130 law clerks, a few stand out. Here are the clerk alumni of Clarence Thomas who are tied to the Trump sphere:
Laura IngrahamPresident Donald Trump gives Laura Ingraham a kiss after inviting her on stage during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Luis M. Alvarez/AP
Ingraham, who now hosts the Fox News primetime show “The Ingraham Angle,” served as a clerk for Thomas in 1992 after attending law school.
The Fox News firebrand threw her support behind the former president early on after becoming one of the first pundits to endorse Trump in his presidential campaign.
During the Capitol attack, Ingraham texted then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that “the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” according to a series of text messages obtained by the January 6 House panel.
“This is hurting all of us,” Ingraham wrote. “He is destroying his legacy and playing into every stereotype… we lose all credibility against the BLM/Antifa crowd if things go south.”
Greg KatsasIn this March 26, 2012, file photo, Gregory Katsas speaks outside of the Supreme Court in Washington.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Between 1989 and 1992, Katsas clerked for then-Judge Clarence Thomas on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and continued to clerk for Thomas after he joined the nation’s highest court.
Katsas later served in the White House Counsel’s office for the Trump administration. In December 2017, Trump appointed Katsas to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2020, the former president also included Katsas on his list of potential Supreme Court nominees.
Patrick PhilbinIn this screengrab taken from a Senate Television webcast, Deputy Counsel to the President Patrick Philbin speaks during impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol on January 25, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Senate Television via Getty Images
Philbin served as a law clerk to Thomas from July 1993 to July 1994. He went on to represent Trump as deputy counsel during the former president’s first impeachment trial.
The former deputy White House counsel’s name has also been evoked during the January 6 hearings in recent weeks along with Trump’s former top lawyer Pat Cipollone with regards to Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark.
Clark formerly worked for the Justice Department and nbb help Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Former Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue said in testimony before the January 6 House committee that Cipollone and Philbin said they would resign if former acting US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen was fired and replaced by Clark.
John YooFormer Department of Justice official John Yoo testifies before the House Judiciary committee during a hearing on the administration’s interrogation policy on June 26, 2008 in Washington, DC.
Melissa Golden/Getty Images
Yoo, who clerked for Thomas from 1994-1995, is known for drafting former President George W. Bush’s legal justification for torturing detainees after 9/11, known as the “torture memos.”
In 2020, the lawyer said he helped the Trump White House find ways to skirt the law and install his own policies, particularly on bypassing Congress on the Supreme Court’s immigration ruling upholding DACA.
He also wrote a book about Trump that came out in July 2020 titled “Defender in Chief: Donald Trump’s Fight for Presidential Power.”
John EastmanJohn Eastman appeared alongside Rudy Giuliani at a pro-Trump rally on January 6.
Eastman is known for his role in advising Trump and penning a memo outlining a six-step plan to overturn the 2020 election.
In the memo, the former law professor helped craft a plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence to delay or outright block the certification of the election results. He claimed that Pence could reject electors from states where Trump allies flagged disputed claims of voter fraud.
Federal agents recently seized Eastman’s cell phone, per a court filing, marking the latest development in Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Trump’s failed effort to reverse his defeat in the 2020 election.
Eastman clerked for Thomas between 1996 to 1997.
Neomi RaoNeomi Rao, a Trump-appointed judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was part of a critical ruling clearing the way for the Justice Department to establish a new lethal injection method.
Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Rao was appointed to the DC Court of Appeals in 2018 to replace Brett Kavanaugh after he joined the Supreme Court. She was also on Trump’s shortlist for SCOTUS.
She served as a law clerk to Thomas in 2001.
Prior to being appointed to one of the most powerful courts in the nation, Rao served as head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in July 2017, where she helped defend the Trump administration’s agenda, per The New York Times.
In 2020, she ruled in Trump’s favor by dissenting in two cases over presidential powers, pushing back on a ruling that grand jury information from the Mueller report on Russian interference should be shared with the House Judiciary Committee.
“Judge Neomi Rao has served less than a year of her lifetime appointment to the DC Circuit, and I fear the damage she will do if she keeps putting politics and her allegiance to this president above the law,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, said in a statement at the time, per a report by Roll Call.
Eisenberg served as the deputy counsel to the Trump White House, as well as legal advisor to the National Security Council during Trump’s tenure.
He was among four White House officials who failed to show up to testify during the first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, after reports suggested Eisenberg listened to complaints related to the president’s call to Ukraine.
Eisenberg served as a clerk for Thomas from 2003 to 2004.
Severino is a conservative political activist and president of conservative advocacy organization Judicial Crisis Network, where she led campaigns supporting Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh’s nominations to the Supreme Court.
The political activist also clerked for Thomas from 2007 to 2008.
William ConsovoyWilliam Consovoy, President Donald Trump’s attorney, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington following a 2019 hearing.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Consovoy previously represented Trump, specifically in the former president’s efforts to shield his tax returns from then-Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., who was pursuing a years-long investigation into the Trump Organization’s business dealings.
Consovoy also clerked for Thomas from 2008 to 2009.
Patrick StrawbridgePatrick Strawbridge, a former lawyer for Donald Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization, exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse, following a ruling by a judge to allow Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp to provide financial records to investigators, in New York City, U.S., May 22, 2019.
Strawbridge, who currently works at Consovoy’s firm, formerly represented Trump and three of his children, as well as the Trump Organization. He also served as a law clerk to Thomas from 2008 to 2009.
Though not everyone who has a Thomas and Trump connection props up the former president
Judge Carl Nichols clerked for Thomas in 1997 and 1998. He was later appointed to the federal bench in Washington, DC, by Trump in 2018.
Nichols has repeatedly ruled against Trump and his allies since being confirmed.
In July 2019, Nichols dismissed a lawsuit filed by Trump against New York state officials to prevent the state from turning over his state tax returns to House Democrats, though they had not even asked New York for financial records.
Nichols said at the time that the case put him in a “very awkward position,” though he ultimately ruled to dismiss the suit, saying federal trial court wasn’t the place to decide a case involving New York officials.
Two years later, in 2021, the federal judge also denied motions from Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Lindell to dismiss Dominion’s lawsuits against them, allowing all defamation lawsuits from the voting systems company to proceed. He’s also proceeding over Steve Bannon’s contempt of Congress trial that starts on Monday, July 18.