Clarence Thomas accepted a free yacht trip to Russia and got flown out on a complimentary helicopter ride to Putin's hometown, 2 Democratic senators say


  • Democratic senators have accused Justice Clarence Thomas of accepting undisclosed gifts and trips.

  • He allegedly accepted gifts like a yacht trip and a chopper ride to St. Petersburg, Putin‘s hometown.

  • Senators seek investigation into potential tax fraud and financial ties between Thomas and Crow.

Two Democratic senators have accused Associate Justice Clarence Thomas of accepting free trips to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hometown.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon filed a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland on July 3, asking to open an investigation into the SCOTUS judge.

The letter highlighted the “serious possibility of tax fraud” and accused Thomas of having “secretly accepted gifts and income potentially worth millions of dollars.”

The letter’s appendix, which lists 35 undisclosed gifts, shows a “yacht trip to Russia and the Baltics” and a “helicopter ride to Yusupov Palace, St. Petersburg,” both listed under the year 2003.

St. Petersburg is Putin’s birthplace and where he grew up. The president currently resides in Moscow.

The appendix list is titled “Likely Undisclosed Gifts and Income from Harlan Crow and Affiliated Companies.” Harlan Crow is a real estate developer and the former chairman and CEO of the Trammell Crow Company.

The senators cited a ProPublica report from May 2023 detailing Thomas’ hushed-up financial ties to Crow.

The report stated that apart from the Russia trip, Crow also funded Thomas’ grandnephew Mark Martin’s boarding school fees, which cost “more than $6,000 a month.”

In their letter, the senators wrote that other gifts from Crow included “multiple instances of free private jet travel, yacht travel, and lodging,” as well as “gifts of tuition for Justice Thomas’s grandnephew,” “real estate transactions,” “home renovations,” and “free rent for Justice Thomas’s mother.

In September 2023, Thomas acknowledged that he had accepted three trips on a private plane owned by Crow. He did not mention any other gifts.

Whitehouse and Wyden are not the only Democrats who have voiced concerns over Thomas’ sketchy financial ties.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York filed articles of impeachment against Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito on Wednesday.

Justice Thomas and Alito’s repeated failure over decades to disclose that they received millions of dollars in gifts from individuals with business before the court is explicitly against the law,” her statement read.

Representatives for Thomas, Whitehouse, Wyden and Crow didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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